How Living the Vanlife Challenged us to Consume Less and Live Differently

As far as we can remember, we always felt pretty aware of the environnemental issues of our blue planet and considered ourselves as the “good guys”. Meaning we were already vegetarians for a couple of years, we wouldn’t buy water in plastic bottle, we recycled our waste, we shopped at the organic corner of the regular market and will never let the water flow or the electricity on useless… pretty decent citizens after all?

In early 2018 we bought our first van and started travelling as weekend warriors. We would leave on friday evening, buy some overpacked snacks to eat while driving and baby wipes to clean ourselves, and enjoy the vanlife. Over this year, we also joined the Paris’ chapter of the Surfrider Foundation Europe , and took part in a couple of their Ocean Initiatives (Actions to raise awareness about the problem of marine litter by organizing litter collections at beaches, lakes, rivers, and seabeds.). This has been our wake-up call: it no longer made sense to collect waste on the beach and fill up a huge trash bag over the weekend in the meantime.

We now moved full-time in Tartine, our second campervan, and wanted to explore with you how living the vanlife challenged us to consume less and live differently.

#1 We became Zero Waste

Even if we’ve heard the term “Zero Waste” a couple of time before, our curiosity truly aroused when we saw the amount of waste we would produce in our campervan. In fact, there is nobody else than you to handle the trash you created in the first place… how the regular trash at home suddenly looks like a burden in your van. Over the months, we started to read more about it, attend some conferences and talk about what we could differently together. Moving into our campervan truly accelerated our Zero Waste shift: the more knowledgeable we got on the topic, the easier it got to aim for a Zero Waste lifestyle.

Buying in bulk, making our cosmetics, cooking seasonal food, composting our food scraps, producing our own green electricity, consuming 100L of water in 4 days for the two of us (while the average french person needs 160L in a day), ditching single-use items, saying no… now that we’ve implemented all these life-changing habits, there is no way back, only room for improvement.

We even had the chance to give a conference about being Zero Waste when you live the vanlife at the Vanlifest gathering #1.

#2 Everything we own fit in a campervan

Downsizing, downsizing, downsizing… if you had told us a year ago we could be able to get rid of over half our belongings, we will doubt it ourselves. Even if we only lived in 35m2 flat in Paris, we managed to accumulate a load of stuffs. As we made our decision towards moving in our campervan, we both knew it involved selling and giving away what we had. Storing stuffs in my (Chloe) parent’s place could have been an option, but if we didn’t need to keep those stuffs with us, it meant we didn’t them at all after all. Backpacking, surfing, snowboarding… we even managed to fit all of our outdoor gear inside Tartine.

#3 We spend more time out in nature

Living in the city, nature always felt like the ultimate weekend or holidays getaway… now we came up with the realisation that the smaller is your living space, the more time you spent outside. We literally just step out of the campervan and enjoy a walk, a run, a bike ride or even a yoga lesson outside. Somehow we all crave this need to reconnect with the nature: enjoy the cirspy morning rise, listen to the birds, enjoy the ever-changing colors, appreciate the moon cycle, watch the stars… no matter where you stand in the world, nature is stunning and it’s would be a pity not to appreciate it.

#4 We created a lifestyle aligned with our values

We choose the vanlife to explore the world, but also as an alternative to live a sustainable living and focus on what matters: live in the moment over collecting things. By questioning every aspects of our lives, we can proudly state we never felt so aligned with our inner-selves than now. A couple of years ago we could both be keen for a one-year world tour, hopping from country to country to tick that bucket list until we run out of budget. Instead of that, we now want to focus on Europe instead of going miles way, ditch the itinerary and travel slowly as things come, and work along the way to aim for a never-ending adventure.

As for us, it feels pretty right to own almost nothing, live accordingly with our values and  stumble into unplanned adventures along the road but who knows what tomorrow will bring. What’s about you? Let us know if vanlife has impacted your habits and views on consumption!