Living in an 88 square foot space teaches you a lot in regards to how much trash a person can, and does create. Having that tiny space be inside a van teaches you a few other things about being green as well.
My life, currently parked in San Francisco, is an eye opening opportunity. It is a city, in a state that is really trying to lead the way in greener ways of living.
Yet something still seems off. Somewhere, we are missing something. It’s not just the green movement, but most movements. We seem to be missing the point. We want to see large scale change, but are unwilling to examine and change the small scale things we can affect in our own lives. Efforts towards green, begin with us, the individual.
In trying to move my life in a greener direction. The path led me to van life. The van isn’t fuel efficient. It isn’t my mode of transportation. The point of the van is having a place to lay my head. It isn’t where I live. Life happens everywhere; it isn’t a place.
It has been one full month since moving my life into the van. Three weeks of life on the west coast, and a new understanding of what it means to live “green”.
The world is so interconnected these days, and it is a positive thing; far as I can tell? However, with all of that connection comes the huge task of distributing amongst all. A lot of us want to see things move in a greener direction, but don’t spend an hour a month alone with mother nature. How can we understand what we want to save if we don’t connect with it?
It is easy to say we want to be green. In practice, it can be far more difficult than we realize. We can recycle, we can shop at Whole Foods till were blue in the face. What does that food cost the Earth? How much fossil fuel must be burnt on a daily basis to support even our most basic needs. Food is after all, one of our essential needs to sustain life.
Variety, a store full of produce from around the world, is not. I repeat; not a necessity. What is the solution? Beats me. We aren’t going to magically have a world go all “Walden” ( Henry David Thoreau ) on us. I highly doubt we all start building our own modest housing. Living off of our own work, on our own land, may be potential reality. Not however, a likely one.
The option for changing the world that most made sense to me; changing my world. I know! It’s radical. It is however, something that has been worth repeating and discussing.
In my desire to see a greener world, it has been most beneficial to make my world, a greener one. So; my house is a van. It is parked in one place, most all days. My motto for 2017 is “hike or bike”. If it is further away than accessible by those methods; no need to be there.
My options don’t currently afford me a place to grow many of my own crops. Perhaps one day. For the time being, a basic diet consisting of oats, greens, a few eggs and a daily kombucha keeps me healthy, sustained, and ready for what life offers.
Earlier I mentioned that living in the van has taught me about trash. That is another area within my own life I am able to make small changes. Small changes, repeated often, can become profound new ways of understanding. There are seven billion people on earth. Each one producing trash, every single day, day in and day out. So on and so on. Where does it go? How long can we sustain that build up?
Those are more questions for which I offer no grand scale answer. The solution for myself was again, to get smaller. To look at the problem from the perspective of my own life. To change small things in my daily life over and over until the solution becomes apparent. The answers are there, at an individual level.
We all need to take responsibility for our own actions. For me right now, it takes about two weeks to produce enough waste to fill a Whole Foods brown bag. Every bag opened gets refilled and stuffed with trash. Everything recyclable, is. Everything compostable, is. Finally, everything that cannot be recycled, is reused.
Another thing apparent in California is the water crisis. Drought that has existed here the past few years, has created a movement for water. Signs everywhere say to conserve water. Facilities are even being built in Sacramento to begin de-salination.
Yes, water from the ocean is going to have salt removed to make fresh water. Who knows what that means. Could be a solution to a huge problem. Could be the next big problem?
My solution, you guessed it. Go smaller. Showering everyday is a luxury. Most of us don’t do anything that makes cleaning up that way a daily need. Every three or four days I shower. Between showers, I use biodegradable wipes to clean my face, pits, and lower regions. Honestly, my skin and hair have never looked or felt better.
Utensils in my van for eating include: one spoon, one fork, one knife, a bowl, one coffee mug and two; one quart mason jars. A two gallon water container with a spout is filled every week. Those two gallons supply my dog with drinking water while in the van. It is also used for all of my weekly utensil cleaning. With a bottle of Dr. Bronners soap, a small amount of water, my finger tips, and a few microfiber towels from REI; my utensils are as clean as any washed in a dishwashing machine.
The biggest kicker to all of this… I’m saving more money than ever before. It has freed up more time for doing things I enjoy, while also affording me more time to be productive. As apposed to busy; something a great many people seem to be.
It isn’t to late to save the world we live on. It isn’t beyond us to see a brighter future for the generations to come. It starts with small changes in our own world. It takes efforts towards green on an individual basis. It takes more love, compassion, and understanding on an individual basis.
Wake up to now and take control of the future. Grab the present moment by the proverbially horns, and enjoy the ride. It’ll never be better than right now. It’ll never be the future. Make right now a priority. That is how we preserve a “now” for generations to come. Much love.