Making the switch to a low waste van lifestyle is a fantastic way to cut back on your environmental footprint, save money and be a good steward of the earth (like we are called to be!). Here’s how we are living a low waste lifestyle from our tiny home on wheels aka our van!
Our WHY behind a low waste van lifestyle
For me, there were many reasons to live a low waste lifestyle but it hasn’t always been that way! I realized the way I was living was not supportive of anything other than destroying the environment and my health. The biggest drivers for my 180 flip are 1) JESUS, this earth is a gift he gave us and I want to nurture it, 2) oceans, as a born and raised Alaskan, I am in nature a lot and to see it filled with garbage broke my heart and 3) my future children, I want them to have a beautiful green earth and nature to escape to.
I asked Tommy and here is his: “That a great question.. umm.. probably out of respect for the earth. Because I love the earth so much and I want it to continue being awesome.” There you have it folks.
What we were wasting the most of
First off, we’ve never purchased or used trash bags in our entire marriage. We’ve always used Trader Joes and Whole Foods bags ha! Same goes for any paper products other than toilet paper.
The biggest offenders when it comes to our waste is:
- food packaging
- shipping packaging (from products we buy)
- from online ordering and what brands send us
- food scraps (onion tops, avocado pits, peels, etc)
- random things like old clothes, broken items, etc.
The plan we created as a guide
When I started really thinking about the idea of a landfill and how disturbing it is that we have acres and acres of land used to hold our TRASH … it drove me crazy. I was so upset at myself that I had thrown away clothes, household items that broke and even furniture. REMEMBER, give yourself grace.
Our plan involved the following:
- asking “do we need this and is it multifunctional” before any purchase
- remember, we live in a van so a cup that acts like a bowl and a water dish is a win-win 😉
- getting a separate paper bag or container for recyclables that we had been throwing away
- purchasing items that are recyclable or reusable
- buying produce outside of plastic whenever possible
- always always always bringing my own bags
- bringing along our own mugs, containers for eating out
- finding a way to recycle old clothes, electronics, etc.
- nothing goes in the trash that can be more responsibly disposed of
Buying stuff wasn’t an issue for us
Again, we live in a van and don’t have room for stuff. This makes it even easier to live a low waste van lifestyle! Incase you want to learn more about our decision to move into a van, here you go!
Swaps we made (simple and difficult)
I will list the swaps we made from simple to difficult. Your path may look different but you can do it, promise ya!
- water bottle (glass or stainless steel)
- reusable utensils (bamboo, metal or even recycled plastic)
- here’s a great post on ditching single use disposable items
- reusable dishes (we don’t use any paper products in the van)
- baking products (aluminum foil, parchment paper, cupcake tins)
- now we use If You Care products, silicon or oil the crap out of the dish
- cleaning products (packaged in recyclable plastic or glass)
- clothing (organic cotton, hemp, recycled materials, thrifted)
- mattress (from conventional to organic)
- we have this one (code HOLISTIC25) saves you $225 + free shipping
- food (buying products only in bulk, in recycled materials or recyclable materials)
- this was is the hardest in the van because we can’t buy huge quantities of food due to our tiny fridge/freezer and most items comes in plastic
- if I have to choose between organic produce in plastic or conventional, I choose organic.. it’s all about what’s most important to you
An extra step: supporting brands that do the same
Here are some of the brands we love and support with our dollars. They use either glass, recycled materials, recyclable materials or something else super rad.
Low waste and zero waste food brands
Products from local farmers – This is my favorite one of all because I can bring my own containers, bags, etc. and there is a tiny carbon footprint to get it + I am supporting a local hard-working organic farmer!
Solti – California based organic cold-pressed juice company that packages everything in glass. Their motto is #betteringlass. My favorites are their Ginger Shots, the Hemp Tea and any of the Superade drinks. Use my code SIMPLHOLISTIC.
REBBL – In 2020, they announced their new 100% recycled and recyclable bottle for the herbal elixirs. My favorite is the Maca Mocha and the Gold Label. Get your hands on one.
Fourth & Heart – We buy their grass-fed ghee and Chocti on a regular basis. They come packaged in glass that I peel the labels off and reuse for soups, nuts, plants and a dog food scoop! You can get it on Amazon or here.
Primal Kitchen – Like Fourth & Heart, they use glass for their products. They have organic refined sugar-free products like ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, dressings and avocado oil. Keep an eye out because many of their products are stored in plastic. We opt out of those ones. My code SIMPLHOLISTIC saves you $$.
Honey Mamas – Oh my heart, this is my favorite chocolate brand of all time. They are based in Portland, Oregon and come in the most delicious and medicinal flavors like lavender, cardamom, ginger and more. Their packaging is unbleached parchment paper. Additionally, they use environmentally sustainable shrink wrap for their case boxes. GET IT.
Low and zero waste clothing brands
Synergy – Say hello to my favorite clothing brand ba ba ba baaaaah. I am obsessed and my closet is filled with them from bras to pants to hoodies.
You can check out my sustainable swimwear post for even more brands that are doing it right.
Low waste and zero waste supplements
Organic Olivia – She is an herbalist who makes herbal medicines and tinctures and natural alternates to basic medicines! All products come in amber glass bottles. My favorites are the Elderberry Elixir, Mane Magic and Herbaltussin.
Nutrigold – These are my favorite supplements of all time. You’ll get them in dark amber glass bottles that can be recycled and refused for whatever your heart desires. They go beyond packing and their products are just phenomenal. My code SIMPL gets you 15% off site wide.
SEED – This probiotic brand is the real deal and they go as far as making their shipping materials out of mushrooms! Then, you send your container back in when you run out and they simply refill it! Talk about amazing. Again, my code SIMPLHOLISTIC saves you 15% off.
Low waste and zero waste beauty/hygiene products
Primally Pure – I love me some Primally Pure non-toxic skin care products. They make the most fantastic and delicious smelling blue tansy oil that you ca’t live another day without. All of their products come in glass! My code SIMPLHOLISTIC10 saves you 10% 🙂
Ann Marie Skincare – Just like Primally Pure above, I am a mega fan of Ann Marie. These are the only two brands I trust their products enough to put them on my super sensitive skin and face. Ann Marie products come in dark glass containers. I use the Aloe Herb Cleanser.