Living in a van has open our eyes to how much waste is created and energy used for a small space and 2 relatively environment-polite adults.
Water: Our fresh water tank holds 100 liters and we must refill it every 4-5days. It is mainly used for hand washing, dish washing and cooking. We run out of water much faster when we hand wash a few delicates and clean cloths, take 1 minute Mexican showers, wash our hair in the sink and boil lots of pastas or potatoes. Water can be found at gas stations but not all of them have a filling hose.
Propane: A 20 pound tank lasts about a month. The tricky thing about getting more propane is that you must exchange your tank in the country you bought it. We have one from Poland and one from Czech Republic. The propane is used for cooking, water heater, heater and the fridge when we are parked. Propane rocks, it works 3 times better than electricity.
Electricity: We have a regular car battery and a large deep cycle battery. When on long drives, both of the batteries charge in tandem, to give you an idea, it takes about 12 hours or so to recharge the deep cycle battery. We also have a gadget that you attach to the battery and plug into an outlet at a campsite which recharges the batteries much faster (Matt blogged about it’s magical powers a few weeks ago). Power is needed for the fridge while driving, starting the car, interior and exterior lights, water pump, charging a laptop, 2 cell phones, 2 eBook readers and a tablet. Electricity has been the most challenging thing for us but after 4 months we finally have things under control, we use LED lights at night and charge our devices when we’re on the road. We are still looking into buying a solar panels so that we can be more independent but this has been a bit of a battle, no one seems to sell them and purchasing anything online (Amazon or eBay) without an address is impossible. Newly charged batteries can last about 3 days, longer if we didn’t have so many dance parties but we are not about to give that up.
Internet: I’ve ranted about Wi-Fi many times before and I will do it again. McDonalds has free stable internet in most countries but a few places disable the downloading of torrents and block things like my free txt messaging app. Especially in Eastern Europe, most city centers have free Wi-Fi hotspots which is great for checking your email and referencing a map but slow for web browsing because you are sharing the signal with half a million other tourists. Up to now, I’ve personally have had my ‘Interneting’ needs met but the Wi-Fi “situation” has been Matt’s largest issue this whole trip as he’s addicted to Facebook, Gmail and reading the news.
Pee: 2 people can fill an 8 liter container everyday! It gets so heavy that I can’t lift the container myself. We decided from the get go that we weren’t going to poop in our bathroom, instead we visit our friends at Ikea, McDonalds, Starbucks, etc. Their handicap bathrooms double as our personal spas.
Trash: I’ve always been an avid recycler, tragically something that I’ve had to give up while travelling Europe. First of all, not all countries recycle and people litter everywhere you go. We try and do our part by brings 2-3 fabric shopping bags with us everywhere we go, at the store we opt for items with less packaging and we try to buy large boxed wine instead of smaller bottles. Despite our best efforts we produce roughly 2 small grocery bags of garbage everyday, most of which is soda water bottles, store packaging and food scraps. There is simply no room for recycling or composting in our 90 sq/ft abode, plus flies and mosquitoes are a big issue when you are parked near nature.
It shocks me to discover how much humans consume without taking notice.