I don‘t need to underline that protecting the diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable should be key to everyone. Our environment is something we are all affected of so it‘s just obvious that we all have to take care of it. Especially as a vanlifer spending almost all the time very close to nature either deep in the forests, up in the mountains or right next to the sea it becomes clear to live with nature and not against it. The world has so many beautiful spots, stunning views and unique shapes to offer that we simply have to protect it.
That starts with our own behaviour within nature. We are welcoming clean spots without any trash laying around rather than plastic bottles, toilet paper or plastic packaging scattering the place. That‘s why we have to make sure that we are leaving the area the same way or even more clean as we found it. Don‘t leave any paper, glass bottles or especially plastics behind. Unfortunately almost every place I have been was polluted with every type of plastic. Did you know that it takes up to 20 years until a simple plastic bag is rotting? Plastic packaging takes up to 80 years and plastic bottles up to 200 years! Try to imagine that the plastic bottle you are leaving behind will still lay there at times of your grand-children. Even paper takes several weeks depending on their surface – paper packaging is often covered with colouring or synthetic material. A simple paper towel takes up to 5 years to rot! Glass isn‘t rotting at all and metal parts doesn‘t rot but corrode. That means smaller parts are still existing and would never „disappear“. But it‘s not just about the time it takes for trash to rot, it‘s also about the impact on flora and fauna. The soil will be conterminated and animals die because of swallowed trash or strangled by plastic pieces. So think about every kind of trash you might leave behind! Take it with you and throw it away at a place which is meant for it. Unfortunately many people still throw away their rubbish right where they are. That‘s why I always cleaned the area around my van or further to contribute my part of keeping nature protected. Therefore I made it a habit always to keep a bag with me whilst hiking or walking through nature in order to collect trash laying around. And you wouldn‘t believe it – no matter how abandoned and far away from civilization that place was – I always found enough waste to put in my bag. I know it doesnt make sense for all of us to collect trash someone else left behind but if we would all share the same attitude where might we end up? I don‘t want to risk that and I want to make sure that I contribute a considerarble portion to protect nature for myself, for the other people living around me and of course for following generations.
Traveling in a van isn‘t the best example for a sustainable lifestyle. That‘s why I decided to use the car as much as necessary, but as little as possible. Whenever possible I walk or use the train instead of driving by car. Especially when I am visiting cities. I often leave the van somewhere outside town and take the public means of transportation. That keeps the cities cleaner and less crowded and I didn‘t risk another bump in my car or endless hours searching for a free parking space. In cases of using the van I rather drive in an appropriate speed to save fuel and to minimize emissions. That also meets the need to slow down and enjoy the surroundings.
Saving resources is much simpler than expected. It starts with wearing clothes for more than one day in order to minimize the laundry. There is nothing unhygienic about wearing a jumper two or three times or using a towel for a week. Producing less of dirty dishes is another way of saving water. Think twice before using another bowl or coffee mug although you don‘t really have to. It saves resources specifically in your van and generally in the world.