#vanlife: Can it be Sustainable to Live in a Camper Van?

My blog is all about living a more sustainable and conscious life – and then I moved into a motor home!

Can life in a motor home be sustainable at all? In which way has life back in Leipzig been more sustainable and in which way is it maybe more sustainable now? This is what I want to discuss in today’s post!

To be able to discuss this, I have to say a few words about sustainability in general – and what makes a more sustainble life in my understanding. When I started looking into a more sustainable lifestyle, I did my research back then and I checked which three sectors are the most un-sustainable! Turned out these are:

  1. Production of animal products
  2. Fossil Fuels
  3. The fashion industry

So I stopped eating animal products, stopped buying clothes from all those fast fashion labels out there and reduced flying to one flight per year. I didn’t have a car anyway.

Now, after those changes I continued to look into what else I could change. These were things such as eating only organic food (checked that one years ago already), using less plastic, wasting less food, taking better care of your belongings so that they last longer, sharing or renting things that you don’t need too often etc. etc. .

Of course we also changed to a climate neutral energy supplier for the electricity in our apartment and we changed to a bank that isn’t supporting climate change and to a health insurance that is actually taking care of healing the planet as well.

This doesn’t mean that our life was 100% sustainable! It was just the most sustainable we’ve been able to do at the given moment.

Back in Leipzig we knew were to go for unpacked foods, for organic produce, we’ve been able to wash our clothes with biodegradable detergents, sort our trash so that it could get recycled, use less water here and there, support the bees by planting flowers on the balcony etc. etc. We had our routines and – as it is always the case with routines – it was easy for us to live a rather sustainable life! It wasn’t a challenge for us at all. It was just the most normal thing to do. 

Okay. This is were we’ve been before we moved into a motor home. And then what happend?

Suddenly we are using diesel! 10,5 liters on 100 kilometers!

Finding unpacked foods isn’t that easy!

Even finding organic food isn’t easy!

Sorting the trash is possible – but when you cannot find trash cans were you can put it in sorted, it doesn’t make sens.

We have to put those chemicals in our toilet every time after empyting it.

We use solor power yes, but those batteries in our car will never biodegrade and they needed loads of resources to be produced.


From my perspective it is MUCH more difficult to live a sustainable life when living in a motor home!

Since we are moving around to new places every few days, we need to find the right places: to buy food, and other things. But we cannot spend all of our time searching for organic shops or zero waste possibilites. In some places it’s easy, yes (like in France there are organic supermarkets everywhere and they all have a huge bulk section!) but in some places it is much more difficult if not impossible! 

When we go out to wash our clothes somewhere in a laundry we can get lucky and find one with organic detergent (in France almost all of them have) but we can also be less lucky and only find one with conventional detergent – and yet we have to wash those clothes!

And yes, when we drive from one place to another, we use that diesel oil – and our oven and our fridge are driven by gas … that was climae neutral electricity before! 

However, we can also stick to many things: of course we continue to only eat vegan food so that we aren’t supporting climate change with animal products, we try our best to find organic markets and shop there, we use less water compared to home, we clean our environment from plastic, whereever we go, and we heat less – because it is less cold.

And we try to get the whole thing more sustainble!

We are planning to build us a dry toilet so that we can get rid of those chemicals in the toilet (we hope to get this done early next year!). We did some research on how to get our motor home run on an electric engine, and we are reasearching on how we can isolate the motor home better so that we do don’t have to heat as much, when it is cold.

So what can I say? In our case, this vanlife is actually less sustainable! We do our best, yes, but it isn’t as easy to live up to our goals, as it was back in Germany!

What’s your take on this? How do you feel about sustainability and what we each can do – no matter if living in a motor home, a house or an apartment?


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2 Kommentare

  1. Dezember 3, 2019 / 3:43 pm

    The environmental impact we all cause is hard to ascertain because so much of it is hidden. Like eating foods trucked across the country implicates us in the ecological costs of that transportation. I believe your choice of van-life is better than some might realize.

    What we all need to do is learn about the consequences of our choices and do our best, recognizing that we don’t always know what those consequences are. Too many people don’t know or care about the effects their choices have on the world and those are the ones who need to wake up.

    • Dezember 5, 2019 / 8:30 am

      Thank you! Yes, you are right. This is the most important for sure! Let’s all tr our best to wake up as many people as possible 🙂