How Eco-friendly is Vanlife?
While driving around the world in a 3.5-ton diesel-powered vehicle might not sound like the most eco-conscious way to live, the benefits of van life for the environment might surprise you!
(image: Dolomites, Italy)
We're back at home in the beautiful Scottish countryside now, enjoying house life while Chris is working on some exciting interior modifications for our campervan Maggie! We are enjoying all the little luxuries that go with having access to unlimited water, modern plumbing systems and so much space for Freya and Eva to run around indoors. But now more than ever, we have to be mindful of our heating and power usage in this bigger space and all this has made us think about the big differences between these two ways of living and the impact they each have on the environment.
Living tiny and having to be frugal with not only our stuff but also basic necessities like water and gas go hand in hand with reducing our environmental impact. Plus, with a giant solar panel on top, it's got to be a little greener, right?
So how does #Vanlife stack up against #houselife? In general, this will vary based on other people's van set-up, but for us, this is how our van does against average consumption in a house.
The average household used around 140l of water every day in 2020, which is the same as filling your bathtub almost all the way to the top!
In the Van, on average we use 20l a day and fill up our 80l tank every 4 - 5 days, depending on if we use it for showers or not.
In 2020 the average household used around 35KWh of gas per day for heating their house & water and cooking.
We have a refillable LPG tank underneath our van, which is for heating and cooking, and we use 4KWh per day. Tiny space heats up quick!
According to ofgem, the average household uses 8KWh of electricity, which costs around £1.50 everyday. This goes up when leaving electronics on standby, lights on and charging lots of devices constantly.
With our 400W solar panel & an alternator which charges our 4 leisure batteries whenever we drive, in summer our electricity is free and almost everlasting, but in winter, we stay at campsites once a week to recharge at an average cost of £15 - £30 per night.
Since we've been back in a house, we've been doing two loads of washing a week! Its a bad habit to get into as not only does this use extra water and energy but means our clothes are going to have a shorter lifespan overall!
When in the van, since going to launderettes is so expensive (on average about £15 time!) we can stretch our laundry days to once every 2 weeks by having at least 2 weeks worth of underwear and using every piece of clothing to its fullest before it goes in the wash bin!
Thankfully a lot of companies are letting people work remotely now, but in 2019 a study showed the average commute was just under an hour a day! Back in 2019, our commute was around 70 minutes a day with traffic.
We recently drove from Scotland to Croatia and back in 4 months, but because of our slow pace (on average 2 hours every 4 days) Chris worked out that we'd travelled a similar amount of time to if we were commuting 30 minutes to work 5 days a week. So we saved miles this year on what we were driving previously to work!
While in a house, its so easy to pop to the shop or get a takeaway that the average Brit throws away nearly 2kg every day! But with a big freezer at home, we're able to keep food for longer and the ability to compost food waste is very hard to find on the road.
We have a very small fridge in the van and only a few dry storage spots and since shopping is such a chore (8M van + small car parking spaces + 1 hour shopping with a 2 year old = Stress!), we try to waste as little food as possible by meal planning for the week in advance, which means very little food goes in the bin!
While it might seem like we have a lot of trade off's when it comes to convenience in our tiny home on wheels, it forces us to be considerate of the space, energy and impact we have and leads us to live a more eco-friendly life on the road than we ever could in a house.
Would you consider making some of these changes if you could? What would you like most about van life? What would you like least? Leave a comment below!