Zero Waste Van Life: 8 Top Tips To Go Eco-Friendly On The Road

Inspired by slow travel and the freedom of the open road? Expert Jason Sims gives us 8 top tips on how to adopt a zero waste van life.

Van life has become a growing trend over the years. An increasing number of people are opting to spend time out on the open road.

For Jason Sims, this lifestyle is an opportunity to embrace a slower life and the chance to practice a more sustainable way of living. Here are some of his top tips for a zero waste van life.

Where retro meets modern, van life embraces the slower life while driving yourself around.

Whether you choose a traditional VW campervan or a modern conversion, say a Ford Transit, there are so many ways to have fun while practising Everyday Activism.

We’ve listed our top ways to make van life more sustainable, and how you can give back to the planet while enjoying your life on the road.

Here’s how to have a zero waste van life on the road.

8 Top Tips For A Zero Waste Van Life

1. Change your single use gas canisters to a refillable one

If your stove runs off gas, as a lot of campers do, change it to a refillable one through a hose and connector valve.

Where possible, try choosing a camper that doesn’t require single use gas canisters or uses an electric hook-up.

Natural gas isn’t always produced responsibly and is a finite resource, whereas electricity can be produced in a more sustainable manner.

2. Drive economically

Let’s face it. No one likes filling up with petrol (or diesel). It drains your bank account in front of your eyes.

As you’re living in a van that drains fuel, you’ll be uber conscious of your carbon footprint.

How to drive economically

  1. Be brake aware. Rather than braking harshly, be gradual.
  2. Keep your tyres well inflated. A 10% reduction in tyre pressure will reduce your MPG.
  3. Do multiple tasks in one go. Rather than driving and letting your engine cool before going again, do everything in the same trip to save fuel.

3. Go carbon neutral

Depending on where you fill up, you can offset your emissions.

While offsetting is not as good as not doing in the first place, it is a way to ensure you’re doing good.

As far as we’re aware, Shell Go+ and bpMe rewards are the only two platforms that let you offset your emissions as you fill up with petrol or diesel.

By using their loyalty schemes, you can help to offset the fuel you purchase through them. However we’re not vouching for the success or optimisation of these offset schemes, so do your research.

4. Rent (or go) electric

There are now options to convert or rent an electric campervan.

This way you can reduce the need to use fossil fuels. Instead, you can have the aesthetic and body of a traditional VW without the need for expensive fossil fuels.

Electric vans can be charged using sustainable electricity sources, and on average cost per mile is three times less than filling up a combustion engine.

If you have an electric van, local councils may be more inclined to allow you to park overnight or stay for longer as you’re not polluting.

5. Choose plastic free water canisters

When refilling water, most people will store it in plastic containers. These, over time, leak microplastics into your water, which contaminates your drinking and has numerous negative benefits.

Steel is your best bet here as not only does it not crack, it’s more durable and thermo-regulatory, so your water won’t get hot when you’re out and about. It’s a much better plastic free solution.

6. Light it up

While living by daylight isn’t always possible, you can make sustainable swaps.

Using solar power, you can power LED bulbs for a long time as they are low energy use bulbs and provide numerous options for colour, size and longevity. LEDs are also readily available and easy to replace.

If possible, avoid traditional filament bulbs. Regardless of aesthetic purposes, they’re super bad for the environment and last a short amount of time. About 5% of the time an LED bulb does!

7. Swap sustainable drinks

We know that coffee and tea are essential when you’re chilly, but there’s sustainable (and money-saving) swaps out there.

A French press is one of them. Not only do you only need the cafetiere and grounds, but you can also make great tasting coffee easily.

Or use an AeroPress. Known for making espresso with a compact and simple method, it makes fantastic coffee that matches coffee shop standards. Read more via our feature on making the best sustainable coffee.

And when it comes to tea, you can get biodegradable tea bags that don’t contain any plastic. PG tips does these and many other brands are heading that way too.

8. Invest in good quality waterproofs

Waterproofs are often plastic based, and while this is hard to change, you can choose ones that will last a long time. Gore-Tex is a famous product for its ability to make water runoff and is very long-lasting.

You could also go sustainable with a Circular Series jacket. All fillings and trims are made of Nylon 6 which is a fabric made from ECONYL® Regenerated Nylon sourced from discarded fishing nets and other waste materials.

All materials are also vegan and have a Cradle to Cradle Certified Gold award which is the world’s most advanced standard for safe, circular and responsible products.

Jason works for Just Kampers, the number one parts and accessories supplier for VW Camper vans and Beetles, and Just Kampers Insurance.