Whether you’re hitting the trail for a weekend trip or committing to van living, there are some items you need to make your time more enjoyable. These eco-friendly van life essentials will keep you comfortable and help reduce your environmental footprint.
Minimize the coffee-making supplies required for your cup of joe with Wildland’s Coffee in a Tea Bag. This convenience produces your morning brew in five to eight minutes. Simply prepare it as you would tea; drop the compostable coffee bag into hot water and allow it to steep. Conscientious coffee lovers will appreciate that Wildland Coffee uses ethically sourced beans from Brazil.
Layover travel blanket
A light, packable blanket can go where you go. At only 11.4 ounces, the Layover by start-up Gravel will clip on to your day pack or stash away in the van with packed measurements of about 5 inches by 7 inches. Even better, the compressible insulation is made up of 100% recycled PET plastic.
Another ethically sourced essential, Allez uses plant-based ingredients for natural cleansing. The cloths are biodegradable, compact, lightweight and handmade in the U.S.A. Through a partnership with Purchase to Protect, Allez has stewarded over eight acres of protected rock climbing areas.
There’s no reason to fill your drawers (or your garbage can) with plastic wrap. Instead, grab some Bee’s Wrap for your food storage needs. The wraps are compact, come in a variety of sizes and reduce waste. Bee’s Wrap is made in the U.S. from certified organic cotton, responsibly sourced beeswax, certified organic plant oils, and tree resin.
Mioeco reusable towels
Skip single-use paper towels and napkins in favor of bleach-free, organic cotton reusable ‘unpaper’ towels. The GOTS-certified material is produced via carbon-neutral, solar-powered manufacturing too.
Osprey Arcane bag
Adventure requires gear. Whether heading to the library for research on your next destination or packing up for a week in the wild, the Osprey Arcane series has you covered with bags that keep your smaller items organized and your essentials close at hand. Every bag is constructed from 100% recycled polyester fabric made from water bottles and offers a lifetime repair guarantee.
Big Potato Games
We all need a little entertainment in our lives, so when choosing games for your limited space, look to Big Potato Games, a brand dedicated to using the smallest box possible for space efficiency in shipping and storage. The company has also implemented a plastic-free initiative, aiming to make 64% of its games plastic-free by the end of the year. Plus, the brand plants one tree for each game sold, supporting mangrove trees in Madagascar and working toward reforestation in Mozambique and Kenya.
Speaking of trees, your van life also needs some greenery, so select a cute flower pot and a favorite plant to hang indoors during your journey. Succulents are a resilient and popular choice that will brighten up any space.
Reli. biodegradable trash bags
Although you may be close to zero waste, it seems there’s always some trash to deal with. When the need calls, ‘Reli’ on biodegradable bags that break down in the landfill after being exposed to soil, air and water.
Even if you move all your belongings into a van, cleaning is still part of life, unfortunately. When choosing tools for the job, go with natural materials. Standard sponges are often made using polyester or nylon, which is not recyclable or biodegradable. In contrast, Helping Out Mother Earth sponges are all-natural.
Continue your zero waste journey with toothpaste bits that come in a reusable glass jar instead of a tube. Bite Toothpaste Bits are made with natural, plant-based ingredients, and refill packs are made from 100% biodegradable cellulose.
Food tastes better in nature, and cooking is better for the planet when you eliminate plastic from the process. Stock up on bamboo cooking utensils, or sets made of sustainably sourced wood.
You may not be canning jam or salsa, but canning jars are the ideal storage device throughout the entire van. Use half-pint jars for herbs and spices and larger jars for nuts and seeds. Outside the kitchen, use a jar to store cotton balls and swabs, make an easy toothbrush holder or pot plants.
A minimalist van lifestyle means choosing quality over quantity, especially when it comes to clothing. Whether you’re dressing for work or the mountain, look for natural materials that will biodegrade back into the soil at the end of the piece’s usable life. Brands like prAna, Patagonia, Tentree, and Cotopaxi can get you started.
Reviewing the essentials
Wildland Coffee and Allez sent sample products for me to try out. Although I haven’t moved into van life quite yet, it’s on my radar. I am an avid backpacker and camper, however, so both products are a good lifestyle match.
The Wildland Coffee is a ‘wild’ idea. I typically go with French press or drip when I have room. When I don’t, I use a funnel and an unbleached coffee filter that I bury afterward. But a simple tea bag in hot water is brilliant and simplifies the process immensely. It doesn’t get any easier to make a cup of coffee.
The flavor is described as chocolatey and creamy. I wouldn’t say there’s that level of complexity, but it’s worlds better than instant coffee (yuck!), and the flavors are mild and well-balanced. I would be grateful to have this brew as part of my backpacking wake-up call.
The Allez wipes are ultra-convenient, especially considering space and weight constraints when backpacking. I was shocked at the generous size. They’re very thick, too. I think I could wipe down my car with these things, so they can certainly handle anything nature throws my way. Better yet, they didn’t leave my skin feeling stripped like a lot of wipes do.
I’m extremely sensitive to scents, so the Cactus Bloom and Chaparral scent was a little strong for me. That said, my husband’s sniff test didn’t find it to be overpowering, and he really enjoyed using the cleansing cloths himself.
Images via Wildland Coffee, Allez, Osprey, Lindsay McCormick, Pixabay, and Dawn Hammon / Inhabitat
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Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by Allez or Wildland Coffee. All opinions on the products and companies are the author’s own.