In today’s modern society, most of us take clean, running water for granted. It is not until we find ourselves in a situation with a limited amount of water, that we actually stop and realize how much we are wasting away and begin to appreciate it more. Living in a van can certainly be a great practice for water management and self-discipline. You can always take some extra gallons of water and store your dirty dishes aside if you’re there for a few days, but we will share some tips for those of you living in a van and ways to save the precious amount of water that you can carry.
Conserving Water While Showering/Using Bathroom
First of all, let’s start with personal hygiene. We are not saying avoid showering or brushing your teeth, but we do encourage you to think more eco-friendly, use greener alternatives and use water more consciously.
1. Capture the initial cold water coming out from your shower. While you’re waiting for your water to reach the perfect showering temperature, precious amount of water is wasting away. You can capture this water for drinking, washing dishes or flushing.
2. Use baby wipes. This is a great alternative to taking a shower, especially if you’re not really dirty, but doing it out of habit. But make sure you’re using eco-friendly biodegradable wet wipes.
3. Turn off the water when you don’t really need it. You may have heard about the navy shower – turning the water off when lathering. This is a great practice for living in a van as well. You’d be surprised at how much water is wasted while brushing teeth, shaving or just washing the hands. Using a hand sanitizer is another great alternative for keeping your hands clean.
4. Use fewer products. Opt for a dry shampoo or leave-in conditioner to use less water. You don’t have to go for an expensive dry shampoo, a simple baking soda or apple cider vinegar will do the trick. Other products such as sponges or loofas also require rinsing, so you might like to try removing them from you showering routine as well.
5. Replace your shower head for lower flow. If you have the funds, you might definitely want to consider shower heads that are designed to conserve water or faucets with aerators fitted. This will definitely make a difference over time.
6. Try a gray water system. The gray water is all the water waste from the shower and sinks that you can still use to flush the toilet.
7. Flush consciously. While the old saying “If it’s yellow, let it mellow” might sound yucky at first, with a simple odor neutralizer you will save so much water that’s being literally flushed down the toilet. If you and the people you’re living with are comfortable with this, it’s definitely worth giving it a try. Another green alternative is installing a composting (dry) toilet. You can also use a nearby toilet, if available or if you go in nature, remember to not leave anything behind you.
8. Enjoy a natural shower. Sometimes jumping in a mountain stream or a dip in a waterfall might be a great way to re-connect with nature while saving shower water.
Conserving Water While Cleaning
9. Cook one-pot meals or cook for multiple meals. Use less pots and dishes while cooking to reduce the amount of water for cleaning up after. Or better yet, try cooking for multiple meals to save time, energy and of course, water. Food like sandwiches, barbecue or one-pot stews reduce the number of plates and dishes for washing.
10. Scrape before washing. You can significantly shorten the amount of dishwashing time by scraping the excess food before washing it.
11. Opt for disposable, eco-friendly plates. While this may be great for going on a RV vacation or camping trip, even those living in a van can opt for this alternative in the sake of saving water. Of course, make sure you buy eco-friendly plates and not the plastic/Styrofoam ones that will end up being waste as well.
12. Use the boiled water for washing dishes. You can easily re-use the water you used for boiling vegetables, for soaping the dishes and quick rinsing.
13. Use spray bottles. Another way to cut down your water waste is to use a water spray bottle. It can be used for cleaning the interior of your van, washing the dishes or washing fruit and vegetables. If you do use it for dish washing, you can also add soap or detergent and simply spray directly on the dishes. Leave them just a little bit and then wipe with a sponge, paper towel or table cloth. For cleaning tables and counters, use anti-bacterial wipes or white vinegar with a paper towel.
14. Clean dishes right away. Don’t let them become too hard to clean and wash right after each meal. If they are still too hard to clean, leave them rinsed overnight, instead of using running water to loosen it.
15. Wash all dishes in one big bucket. This also reduces the amount of water you would use if you washed them in the sink.
16. Try a rainwater harvesting system. There are numerous ways to collect the rainwater on the roof of your RV. This water can be purified and further used for drinking, dish washing, watering plants, showering or anything else.
Having clean, running water in a van is a luxury and not to be taken for granted. That’s why we have to be really smart about how we use each pound. Leading a more minimalistic, eco-friendly and practical lifestyle with wisely chosen products can significantly help save more water and be great for the environment.
Above, we shared some of the main ways and alternatives to using water more consciously and prevent wasting it. Feel free to get creative and come up with ways of your own. A van life can be a life-changing and transformative experience, so enjoy the adventures, buy eco-friendly and degradable products and think green!