Somewhat Gypsea

How to do an Eco-Friendly Van Build & a Sustainable Vanlife Journey in 2024

As more and more people become aware of our impact on our environment, the need for eco-friendly solutions is becoming increasingly important. And with the trend of Van Life on the rise, it’s no surprise that more and more people are looking for ways to make their van life journey more sustainable. So here is How to do an Eco-friendly Van Build.

In fact, Dan & I (Julie) are currently undertaking our Van Build N2, we are asking ourselves that very same question.
In this article, we will explore the steps you can take to achieve an eco-friendly camper van conversion, from choosing suitable materials to reducing your energy consumption on the road. So here we will share 9 ways you can accomplish an Eco-Friendly Van Build yourself & do your part to protect the planet.

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9 Ways to do an Eco-Friendly Van Build

1# Choose eco-friendly flooring, paints, fabric, etc.

  • When it comes to choosing products for your van build, opt for eco-friendly options as often as possible. For example, choose eco-friendly insulation, flooring, paint, fabric & so on. Why not even look for second-hand opportunities for things like your fridge, sink, tap, cushion, mattress, etc. Not only buying second-hand items is better for the planet, but it can also help you save some money on the build itself!

2# Go Nuts on Insulation for an Eco-Friendly Van Build

  • When it comes to converting a van in an eco-friendly way, one of the most important aspects to consider is insulation. There are several eco-friendly insulation options out there. However, our favorite by far is cork. No surprise here since we are complete fanatic of cork products in general. Cork insulation is an excellent option for a van as it is renewable, biodegradable, waterproof, and has natural antimicrobial properties. In addition to these eco-friendly benefits, cork also has excellent insulation properties, which can help keep the van warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
    This means the van will require less energy to maintain a comfortable temperature, reducing the amount of fuel or electricity needed to power heating or cooling systems. It also has an excellent capacity to reduce noise.
    Plus, it is also lightweight and easy to install, making it a popular choice among vanlife enthusiasts. Overall, cork insulation is an excellent choice for anyone looking to convert their van in an eco-friendly and sustainable way.

3# Welcome the breeze

  • Natural cooling can significantly reduce energy consumption, help the planet, and lower utility costs. So how to optimize the airflow in your van? Firstly, when planning your layout, try to keep the pre-existing openings manageable, such side door & back door, as these are incredibly efficient in circulating air through your van. In addition, installing a couple of Maxi fans or skylights can be highly beneficial for cooling purposes as it allows for better air circulation.
    This can help regulate the temperature inside the van as the hot air will be able to escape more easily, keeping your van cooler and more comfortable. Hence, it will reduce the need for air conditioning, which can save on energy and fuel consumption. Overall, adding a Maxi fan or skylight to a van will halp you stay cool naturally.

4# Ditch Gas & Go Nuts on solar

  • By harnessing the power of the sun, you can generate electricity without relying on traditional energy sources, which can be expensive and harmful to the environment. This is especially a great option for those who prioritize living off the grid as it will allow them to stay longer for an extended period of time. Additionally, solar panels can be installed on the roof, maximizing the use of available space and providing a convenient solution for power on the go.

5# Do not waste water

  • To minimize your environmental impact, consider installing a water tank and pump system that allows you to collect and reuse water, such as recirculating shower system. Additionally, consider using water-saving fixtures, such as low-flow faucets and showerheads, and using biodegradable soaps and cleaning products. Also, be mindful of how much water you use for cooking, cleaning, and showering. By taking these steps, you can help conserve water and reduce your overall environmental footprint.

6# Go green with your toilet

  • Composting toilets are a better option for the environment than chemical toilets while living in a van because they do not require any water or chemicals to operate. This means there is no risk of contaminating the environment with harmful chemicals or contributing to water pollution. Additionally, composting toilets allow the waste to be broken down into compost, which can be used as a plant fertilizer. This eliminates the need for sewage systems, promotes sustainability, and reduces waste. Overall, composting toilets are a much more eco-friendly and sustainable option for van life.

7# Watch your weight for an Eco-Friendly Van Build

  • The more weight your van carries, the more fuel it consumes.
    Therefore, it’s essential to reduce the weight of your van as much as possible. The best way to do so is while planning your build by searching for lighter material options. Depending on the kind of adventure you will be doing, you may even be able to opt for an outdoor shower rather than an in-built indoor shower. Of course, you can also shed some weight by removing unnecessary items from your van, including heavy tools and equipment.

8# Ongoing eco-friendly living

  • Use eco-friendly cleaning products, bio-degradable bin bags, buy packaging-free fruits & veggies, eat local products, choose eco-friendly motor oil, etc. Doing so will reduce your environmental impact and keep your van looking and running great while caring for the planet.
    When shopping, look for products made from sustainable materials and support companies with eco-friendly practices. By making small changes in your home and buying habits, you can contribute to a more sustainable future for the planet.

9# Dispose of your waste properly

  • Unless you have been living under a rock these last decades, you’ll know how important recycling is. Recycling paper, plastic, and glass is an easy task while living in a van. Yet the bin situation is often something that is overlooked while planning a van build. Many end up with bin bags hanging from one cabinet or another. In this case, recycling becomes a hassle many do not put up with due to the shortage of space. So make sure to avoid that mistake and plan your bin situation from the get-go to ensure you have enough space to hold onto your waste until you can dispose of them appropriately.

What to remember to accomplish an Eco-Friendly Van Build ?

In conclusion, making your van eco-friendly is not only good for the environment, but it can also save you money on fuel costs and maintenance. By optimizing your van layout and carefully planning out your build by sourcing eco-friendly materials & products, you will make your van an Eco-warrior from the start. Additionally, switching your consumption habits toward mindful buying can significantly impact our planet’s future.

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