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Proof That Off-Grid Vandwelling is Greener than HouseDwelling

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The average house weighs 500,000 pounds. Every ounce of it is ripped from the earth by carbon belching machines; it’s hauled around the country by more carbon belching machines and then it’s processed into the material for the house. Finally, it’s transported to your house-lot, which was also clear-cut. By living in a van, one less house needs to be built, allowing all 500,000 pounds to stay in the earth and none of that carbon is belched into the air. That makes you an environmental superstar!

After last weeks negative post it’s important that I show the flip side of the coin which is that by living mobile we not only make ourselves much happier, more contented and peaceful people, we also drastically reduce the damage we’re doing to the earth .  Your first reaction is probably that there’s no way that can be true and you’d like proof of it. That’s reasonable, and in this post I’ll try to convince you. First, let me define my terms.

  • I’m using vandwelling as a generic term to mean living full-time in a car van or small RV. Granted, the bigger the vehicle you live in the more harmful it is to the Earth, but even a bigger RV will still be much less harmful and greener than the typical house.
  • I’m assuming that the vehicle is not parked in an RV park, but is boondocking (dry-camping without hook-ups) either on city streets or public land like BLM deserts or National Forest. For the last 13 years I’ve lived off-grid in a vehicle of some kind and only stayed in a paid campground four times, and even then only because I was at a place where I had no other choice and I didn’t have hookups.

This is going to be a two parts series, in the first one I’m going to talk about general ways our lifestyles are much greener than living in a house and then in the second part I’ll talk about how boondocking allows us to be totally off-grid and drastically reduce our carbon footprint. We’ll look at specific examples and use a carbon calculator to compare vandwelling to house dwelling. Those hard numbers will be my proof that vandwelling is greener. In that post I’ll address the specific question of burning extra gas in our vans and RVs.

General ways vandwellers are greener:

By getting double use out of a motor vehicle no home has to be built for us. Because nearly all of us own a motor vehicle of some kind, you are just adding functionality to an existing product that was already made anyway.  We don’t need to manufacture a new product, we are just re-purposing an existing one. By living in a vehicle, no home has to built for us which by itself is fantastically good for the planet in these ways:

  • No land was cleared to build a home for me. Instead of leveling 1/8th 1/4 or  1/2 an acre (or more) of land, its left in pristine, natural condition. The trees and natural vegetation absorb carbon and the animals thrive in it.
  • No streets were built for the subdivision because it wasn’t built. No sewer lines or power lines were laid because there is no house!
  • No trees were cut down for the lumber to build me a house.  Instead, they continue growing and absorbing carbon.
  • No sheet-rock or cement was produced for my house. Both of which are carbon intensive to produce and transport. An amazing total of 5% of the countries air pollution comes from making cement and then it destroys everything natural whereever you pour it.
  • No nails, screws, siding, roofing, copper wiring or copper pipes were mined or manufactured for my house, because I don’t have a house!
  • No appliances were built for my non-existent house.
  • No carbon was burned to log or mine the huge amount of items used to build a normal house. No carbon was burned to transport the materials for my house or to build the things that go into the non-existent home of Bob Wells 000 Main Street, Nowhere USA.

No forest were clear-cut to get the lumber for my house and no land was cleared to make the lot to hold my house. Why? Because I don’t live in a house!!

Instead, my cargo van home was built in 2001 by Chevrolet and sold to a plumbing company in Los Angeles, CA, who used it in their plumbing business for 11 years. In 2012, I bought it and turned it into my home. I’m sure I used less than 100 pound worth of material to convert it because it already came with shelves installed. All I had to do was build a bed. As far as I’m concerned, that 100 pounds is all that counts toward my house, but lets be generous and say the whole van had to be created to be nothing but a house. It weighs maybe, 7000 pounds.
I also live in a 6×10 cargo trailer which I bought new to be my tow-able winter home. It weighs 1300 pounds and I added about 400 pounds of plywood, wood, screws and insulation, so lets round it off to 700 pounds and say it weighs a total of 2000 pounds. That means my total home (van and trailer) weighs 9000 pounds.
There were 9000 pounds worth of materials extracted from the earth to build my mobile house. Then it had to be transported and manufactured into all of it’s many parts.   How does that compare to the average American home?
The average American home weighs about 500,000 pounds.  Every ounce of those materials came from the earth and had to be mined, drilled for or cut down, then transported and manufactured. Finally they are all brought to the job site and built.
Simply by preventing the construction of one more home, I’ve prevented the environmental damage of the production and transportation of 490,000 pounds of material! And that doesn’t include the fact that I prevented the clearing of a lot of land for the home itself, the power, sewer and water lines for that house and the streets that go to it.
In this one act I’ve done so much good for the environment that it will offset every other thing I do for the rest of my life! But,that’s not an excuse to abuse the earth,  I still try to live as green as I can every day!

I am an environmental champion, a hero of the earth!! If you are a full-time vandweller or RVer, so are you!

No cement was mined for the foundation of my house at 000 Main Street, Nowhere USA, because it doesn’t exist.

Our homes are tiny, so they are greener to live in.

I live in a 6×10 converted cargo trailer which is 60 square feet and it’s towed by an extended van. I know numerous people who live in mini-vans which are even smaller, about 50 square feet. An extended van or Class B is around 72 square feet, a 24-foot Class Cs  has a whopping 150 square feet. Compare those to the median home in America which was 2306 square feet in 2012.  It’s obvious that  living in 60 square feet is going to be tremendously greener than living in 2306 square feet because there is less room to light, heat, cool, maintain and fill with stuff.

No coal was mined to power anything of mine. The power for for all of my things was pollution-free from the sun.

We create our own electricity from solar panels or our alternators. By charging deep-cycle batteries from the vehicle alternator, solar panels, or generators, no coal, natural gas or propane is being burned so I can have power.  Because we have a limited supply of power, we are very conservative with our use of it and rarely wasteful.   For example, I use one LED light for lighting and only use it when totally necessary. How many light bulbs are in your house and how often are they on with no one in the room?
We are very frugal with water. Most of us don’t have water tanks so we fill small water jugs from city taps. Urban van dwellers mostly use public bathrooms and rural vandwellers mostly use porta-pottys of some kind. My guess is that the average vandweller uses 2 gallons of water a day and the average boondocking RVer uses 6 gallons a day. Compare that to the average American who is using 80-100 gallons of water per day.
Very few of us have any kind of heating or air conditioning. Many of us are snowbirds, moving with the seasons, so we avoid extremes of heat and cold. If we do need heat, we use something like a Mr. Buddy Portable Propane Heater. But even then our living space is so small that we can’t leave it on very long before the van is too hot and w turn it off. So even if we use a heater, we use very little propane. It’s common to use only a Coleman propane stove to cook on and even for comfort heat. Rarely do we use over one or two gallons a month (RVers may use quite a bit more, but still much less than any house). When it’s hot, small fans work really well to cool us off. The bottom line is that for the most part we use very few fossil fuels except for gas for our vehicles.
We don’t over-consume: When your home is as small as ours is, you simply can’t buy a lot of stuff—there isn’t room. The essentials of living usually take up all the space we have so we are forced to stop buying more. Generally, we all reach the point where if something new is going to come in, something old is going to have to go out: One-in, One-out. Everything we don’t buy is another product that doesn’t have to be produced and transported with packaging that doesn’t have to be thrown in to the landfill.
We don’t have lawns. At first that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but a recent NASA study says otherwise simply because of the huge amount of it.  There is three times more land dedicated to lawns than to corn in the USA. Lawns are the single largest crop in the country and they have a big impact.

  • First, the average person in America uses 200 gallons of water per day to water their lawns in a time when water shortages are becoming common.
  • Second, the EPA says lawn mowers produce 5% of all air pollution in the country. Running your lawn mower for one hour is worse than running your car for eleven hours.
  • Third, every year we spill 17 million gallons of gas while refilling our lawn mowers. That’s more than the Exxon Valdez dumped into the Gulf of Alaska.
  • Finally, the large quantity of fertilizers and pesticides used on lawns means some percentage of it must be washed off and end up in the wastewater system where it works it’s way into the oceans, doing even more harm to it.

We aren’t wasteful: When it’s a hassle to get the basics of life, you value them and don’t waste them. When the sun goes down, and you are done driving for the day, all the electricity you have left is what’s inside your battery, so you are very frugal with it. I usually carry 2-4 gallons of water so I am equally careful with it. I use a quart spray bottle for most cleaning, baby wipes and wash clothes to shower, and almost never have hot water. Compare all that with the average home.

  • Who gives a thought when turning on a light? There is an unlimited amount of power, so who cares, leave them all on. Maybe once a month when you pay the electric bill you think about it, but probably never again.
  • Same with water, in most of the country it’s unlimited with no restrictions, so you just use all you want. There are 50-gallons of it in the hot water heater and if that isn’t enough, you might need to get a bigger one. Leave the water running for 5 minutes until the hot water gets there? No big deal!
  • No way are you going to be hot or cold in your own home! You just turn the thermostat up for heat and down for air conditioning. There is an unlimited supply, so why be uncomfortable?

When we  look at the carbon footprint comparisons in my next post, this difference in attitude explains why vandwelling is so much lower.

Even if we wanted to, vandwellers just can't have this much crap!

Even if we wanted to, vandwellers just can’t have this much crap!

We don’t have luxuries:  Nature may abhor a vacuum, but not nearly as much as the average American!! Every empty space in their huge house must be filled! They get caught up in our consumer society and buy everything they might possibly want–even if they have to get it all on credit and work two jobs to pay for it.

  • There may be big-screen TVs in nearly every room along with powerful hi-fi stereos.
  • They have every conceivable kitchen gadget and appliance.
  • The walls can’t be bare so we decorate them with all kinds of pretty things.
  • We can’t sit on the floor or even a camping chair, so we fill the home with all kinds of furniture.
  • It goes without saying that we must be as pretty as possible and smell great, so we fill the bathroom with every kind of health and beauty product, each one guaranteed to make us “fabulous” no matter how toxic they are, how many animals were harmed or how much damage they do to the earth.
  • And then there is the outside of the house. What good is an empty garage, so we fill it with tools and equipment. Very often it is so full of stuff that they can’t even fit the car in.

Worst of all, the house is never big enough, so we are constantly working towards getting an ever-bigger house and until then we rent a storage space to hold all the crap we had to have but will never use again.
None of this applies to vandwellers. Nearly everything in our tiny homes is essential, with maybe a very few nice or sentimental things thrown in.
So those are just general ways vandwelling is drastically greener than living in a house and much less damaging to the environment. In my next post we’ll concentrate on comparing the carbon footprints of vandwellers and house dwellers and specifically answer the myth that by living mobile we burn so much more gas that it offsets the environmental advantages of living in a van.
If you are interested in learning more about carbon footprints, a book I highly recommend is How Bad Are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything   He does a remarkable job of explaining the carbon cycle of consumerism and comparing different items so you can make wiser choices. Get it from Amazon here:
And remember, any Amazon purchases you use by clicking from this blog (even if you buy something else) I will make a small percentage and it will cost you nothing. Thanks for supporting this site in that way!
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  1. WTXCal

    Thanks for such a timely post. My oversized house is Finally!, closing possibly as soon as next week. I have made all the thrift stores in town very happy with all my worldly , unneeded possessions. The day after closing my dog Blanca and I will be heading West to pick up a 21′ rv. I can’t wait to be vagabonding. I love this site and have recommended it to quite a few people. Thanks again, happy travels.

    • Bob

      Thanks WTXCal! How wonderful that you are almost free!
      Welcome to the best times of your life!

  2. Calvin R

    Bob, this is important and positive information. Thank you for posting it. You give people a way out of the trap we have built.
    This first came to my attention somewhere in the full-time RV world. Even a gigantic Class A motorhome is 8 by 40 feet, 320 square feet, and has a lower ceiling than a standard house. Those things are so big that it’s really necessary to have a second vehicle, but they still save a great deal of energy, water, etc., compared to an ordinary house. Now shrink that to a van (say, 6 by 12 feet max inside) or minivan (mine was 4 by 9 feet behind the driver) and it doesn’t even matter if one pays attention to being “green” or not. Vandwellers conserve by the very nature of the lifestyle.

    • Bob

      Thanks Calvin, yo and I think exactly alike on this.

  3. Steveways

    What would the world look like if everyone in the US, or even the world lived in a van, car, or other vehicles? Seriously, what would that look like? It would be interesting hearing the different scenarios.

    • Bob

      I’d have to really give that some thought. It would certainly be the end of society as we know it. Capitalism depends on continual growth in the consumer market and that would simply stop so there would be a new economic system.
      I can’t even guess.

    • hotrod

      we lets face it would be just stupid if everyone lived in a van. I respect bob and others because they figured out a way to live cheaply and afford themselves travel and a great big beautiful front and backyard. And that alone is plenty enough.

    • Lucy

      Steveways, how I interprete this vandweling thing is: Bob, or other van dwellers aren’t expecting EVERYBODY & THEIR BROTHERS to go into this way of living, they believe is a solution & or relief to many problems we’re facing on earth for quite sometime. Nowadays lots of people ( thousands or millions perhaps ) live in their vans, cars, tents,RV’s, nothing new… ever since humans have walked earth there has been nomads; gypsies have roam the earth for thousands of years & before them did the hunting & gathering tribes. So… how I see it Bob & like minded individuals feel the more people live the nomadic life the better for mother earth, less destruction & less pollution will result. Nobody in their sane mind will propose &/or expect 6 billion people roaming earth at once, it will be RIDICULOUS !!
      My regards, Lucy.

      • Bob

        All I ask is one at a time!

    • Kevin

      The word that comes to my mind is dispersed. I think if everyone lived in a vehicle we would move move further apart. Perhaps a reverse of the move a hundred years ago from rural to urban. It would be a return to the way of life that humans normally live. Humans did not evolve to live in large cities.

      • Bob

        I agree Kevin. Anything that that moves humans to a more natural way to live is a good thing.

  4. Lightfoot

    If we had to carry around all our stuff like our nomadic ancestors we’d quickly realize what was a need versus a want. Even folks who hike the Appalachian Trail and try to minimize what they’re carrying on their backs inevitably start getting rid of more stuff as soon as they have to go over a mountain or two. Thanks, Bob, for the weight comparisons–although a house lasts much longer than a car, van, or RV it still is no contest which uses less materials and subsequently less water, electricity, etc.

    • Bob

      Lightfoot, you are very right, many nomadic hunter-gatherers carried next to nothing with them. Today we each have to find the right balance for ourselves and none are right or wrong.
      That’s a good point about longevity! But any car should go 20-30 years and they can all be constantly repaired and kept on the road. They’ll last as long as a roof and longer than the appliances in a house. that does offset it a little, but there’s no question a house is horrible for the environment compared to living in a van or even an RV.

  5. Steve

    First allow me to say that I appreciate your thoughtful posts and general helpfulness of your site. I am a regular reader and even bought your e-book.
    In general, I agree with the premise of your post, however, I think you have tried to prove your point with many sweeping generalities that are simply not true of many Americans. Of course, I can primarily speak for myself but I know very few people (myself included) who live in a new home. Buying a pre-owned home does not do any additional damage to the environment (although obviously it did at one point). Also, homes can sometimes last 100 years or more (try doing that in a van!). My home is now almost 40 years old. Also, many people live in multi-family apartments which are much more efficient and “earth friendly” than single family homes.
    In addition, I know no one who has a bathroom filled with “every kind of health and beauty product” or has “big-screen TVs in nearly every room along with powerful hi-fi stereos” nor do they “have every conceivable kitchen gadget and appliance.” Are there some people who live this way? Of course, but this is not the typical middle class American. I know you are probably exaggerating to make a point but the point is lost through your exaggeration. I agree with your premise that, generally speaking, Americans consume much more than is necessary and even is prudent in order to live a comfortable life. I live a very frugal life and am content. I don’t have a smart phone. I have clothes in my closet that I still wear that I bought at goodwill 15 years ago. Most of the furniture in my house was used when we got it and we have had it for over 15 years. I could go on.
    Yes, the earth is being pilfered and destroyed on a daily basis in order to sustain life for us but what is the solution? You seem to be saying that everyone should live in a van/car/rv. Can you imagine the damage that would be done to the environment if 300 million Americans lived in rvs? You can’t stack them on top of each other to make vertical (high rise) housing. Boondocking that many RVs would destroy any natural surroundings so you would have to build RV parks–more destruction.
    In addition, you seem to minimize the fact that your lifestyle depends on the very system you are condemning. Who built your van? Where did the materials some from? What corporate structures were involved in its manufacture, assembly, transport, and sale? All of that takes energy and raw materials. Where does it come from? What about your cell phone? Who manufactured it? Who sold it? Who advertised its sale? Who maintains the network of cell towers that makes it work? Who built the cell towers? Who manufactured them? Where did the materials come from? What about your computer? What about the internet? What about all of the products that you list links to on Amazon that you continually encourage people to buy? Where do they come from? What about Amazon’s corporate structure and distribution network? What about all of the energy and materials that are consumed in the delivery of all of these products? Etc, etc. You get my point.
    My point is that although your lifestyle may be a bit more “earth friendly” than mine, you are still very much a part of the very system you are condemning. I am not necessarily criticizing you for this. I applaud your life choices and if I were in your situation ( I have a wife and three small children) I would most definitely consider your van dwelling life. BUT I think there is a big hole in your argument for saving the planet when you are (to some extent) still part of the problem (as just about all of us are).
    So what do we do? My point is that aside from eliminating a significant portion of every nation’s population, I see no practical way to solve the problem you describe. Can we minimize it? Yes, I think so (permiculture, alternative energy, natural, non-toxic building materials, etc.). But can we eliminate the destruction of our environment and begin restoring nature’s processes and live in complete harmony with nature? I don’t see any practical way that we can.
    Thanks for allowing me to comment and I appreciate you giving me more to think about.

    • Bob

      Steve, you make a lot of good points, and as you say I use hyperbole to make my point, but the problems I point out are so profound I don’t think I’m exagerating. Let me address a few of your points:
      1) Older houses. As the population grows and some houses are removed from the inventory, new buyers need more houses–that’s why we keep building them. When I lived in an older house and moved out of it into a van, that older house became available to a new house buyer and prevented the construction of one new house. Whether it’s the house I’m in or a new buyer, by moving into a van I keep a house from being built.
      2) Multiple dwellings. It’s true that high rises and multiple units are greener, but vandwelling is still tremendously greener! Let’s say the amount of materials in them is cut in half, it’s still 250,000 pounds versus 9,000! But what if I live in a minivan that weighs 4000 pounds, I’m still hugely more green.
      3) Consumerism, I have to disagree here. It all depends on who you compare it to. The poorest of us live like kings compared to the great majority of the world and the middle class as a whole are surrounded by luxury that 99% of all humans who ever lived can’t even begin to imagine. No, our consumerism is destroying the planet out of sheer selfishness that is incomprehensible. there are a billion people starving to death on this planet as we write each other. I believe most of them would disagree with your assessment of the American middle class.
      4) There is no solution. I’m not responsible for the ills of the world, I’m only responsible for what i do in response to them. You’ve taken steps and you should be pleased that you have, that’s admirable. I have chosen to take stronger action, and I encourage others to think about doing the same, especially since it will make them healthier and happier!!!! I honestly don’t see anything wrong with that.
      5) I make use of the system I condemn. In this country you have three choices, 1) you partake of the system 2) if you don’t, you go to jail, 3) or you die. Of the three choices I’m given, I chose to partake of the system. I pay taxes, get my drivers license and do what’s required of me. But I also work in every way I can to drop out of the system as much as they can. I do as little as I can to support the machine that is destroying the ecosystem we depend on for life. At the same time I’m fighting it from within as much as I can by trying to get others to join me in not supporting it by dropping out of it.
      “All or nothing” thinking just paralyzes us and guarantees hundreds of millions or billions of deaths from climate change in the next 100 years. Just because I can’t do zero harm to the environment, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t take radical steps and do all I can. Especially when it will make my life happier and healthier!!!
      Vandwelling is good for each of us individually right here and right now, plus it’s good for the environment and it’s good for future generations.
      Why in the world wouldn’t I scream it from the housetops as good news!!??

    • Calvin R

      Steve, your assumptions are also flawed. Apartment living does indeed save resources, but not in planet-saving amounts. The specifics of apartment construction are different from just building a bigger house. Ordinarily each apartment has its own heating and cooling units as well as separate plumbing and electrical systems. Hence, the savings may not match the assumption, which applies only to common walls. Based on my experience living in apartments, common walls between apartments are usually bearing walls, may be doubled and are often insulated at least for sound.
      That’s only the beginning.
      I am not finding enough sound information in a casual search, but here’s a beginning.
      First, the number of apartments is not really high in the US. The best figures I found come from the InfoPlease site of the US Census Bureau and are figures from the year 2000. Single-unit housing (detached or attached, plus mobile homes) make up 73.5% of housing units. For all housing, 77.7% was built since 1940 and 44% since 1970 (less than 50 years old). Apparently housing does not have a 100-year useful lifespan, but about 60 might be a good guess.
      Also, I’m not sure whether you understand the size difference. Even the biggest RV made (44′ x 8′ = 352 sq. ft.) does not approach the average apartment size. The average apartment size in 2013 was 982 square feet. The average house is around ten times the size of an ordinary large (8′ x 33′) RV, and even more compared to a van. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average home size in the United States was 2,700 square feet in 2009, up from 1,400 square feet in 1970. The costs of heating and cooling traditional housing cannot compete with the van or R. Even solar and wind power will have far higher initial cost, materials, and labor. Also, vehicles are mass produced, but most housing is site-built. That difference in efficiency and transportation costs widens the gap in construction materials and costs.
      I do not have figures for TVs and stereos per room, but my experience says that Bob is closer. I am staying with three friends who are family to each other and who certainly consider themselves poor. They live on less than half the median family income. They have TVs in the living room and two bedrooms, all in heavy use. Two old (pre-HD) TVs take up space as well. A couple of stereos, one in frequent use and one used maybe a few hours a month; numerous video game systems and games; two tablet computers; a working cell phone and at least one leftover cell phone per person; and two laptop computers, both in use, complete the electronics array. (Three of the cell phones, both laptops, and one tablet are mine. Obviously, I also need to de-clutter some of this.) I have no reason to believe this is not typical. These particular people do not collect beauty products or “gadget”-type household items, but my observations are that most of the people I know have large amounts of either or both, and of clothes as well, and that the bulk of it goes unused, which makes it clutter. That applies across all income groups.
      How would we accommodate large numbers of people if they moved into vehicles? That’s easy. We’d put them where their houses used to be, either permanently or as needed for travel.

    • JD

      Steve, thanks for adding articulate and relevant logic to the discussion.
      Sweeping (and simplistic) generalities indeed. It would be like me comparing my 400 sq ft. off grid cabin to a 40+ ft. Provost rv.

    • Ini

      Hi Steve,
      I agree with you more than with Bob.
      Good Argument!

      • Bob

        Thanks Ini.

  6. Walt

    We have a 35-foot Class A and still have plenty to learn about dry camping, but I always feel more resource efficient when I’m in the RV as compared to our house. If and when I can convince my wife that we should invest in solar panels, I’ll feel even better.

    • Bob

      Walt, there is nothing like producing all your power from the sun in total silence and no work. It’s like magic!

  7. Elizabeth

    Whew! “You go girl!” I always love a good banter! Great post, enlightening statistics and quite true. In the late 70’s i lived on an island off the coast of WA with an old boyfriend, a bed, one dresser, table, two chairs, wood stove, coleman stove and hauled water from a pond…….for 4 years. I had looms, sold weavings at fairs, did odd jobs, had a garden and worked on a totally sustainable, low impact lifestyle. It was heavenly.
    35 years later, a wonderful hubby, a love of collecting and refinishing antiques (no new items for me), two grown kids, 12 acres in the woods and a house of stuff, we have our van. one son this week moved from denver to portland maine, stopped here in KY and drove off with a truck full of everything from towels and sheets to half of our furniture. “You need a dresser! Have mine”, and my clothes got dumped on the floor. “How ’bout a kitchen table and chair”, whoosh! “Couch?” Gone. Sheets, towels, pots, pans……I was so excited and even my husband said he felt liberated once it was all done, even though he got nervous as I was saying, “you want this, you want that”, and it disappeared into a box and into the truck. The other son arrives sunday and will go through what’s left, house on the market in the spring and whoosh. Now just have to get the husband to be on board this spring too. He keeps saying “another year, another year”. I told him, that was fine. I’d send postcards of my travels. (chortle, snort)
    Just had to share my excitement of another step because it’s exhilarating, liberating and i’m coming full circle. Woohoo! Congrats WTXCal! Much appreciation, as always, Bob!

    • Bob

      Elizabeth, “whoosh” has a very good sound to it!! You aren’t alone, I know many women who are much more ready to go but their hubbies are reluctant. Many of them end up just going on their own, alone.
      You do what you’ve got to do to make your heart happy!

  8. Bob

    Bob, interesting post. Something that may be of interest to people that would like to stay in one place and still have a small carbon foot print would be the tiny house movement. Tiny houses are still mobile and have adopted many of van dwellers ideas . Most tiny house folks rent or by a small plot of land, have gardens, raise livestock to feed themselves. This may be a happy compromise for the person that’s not quite ready to be a van dweller. If anyone finds this interesting, Google tiny house and the will be a lot of interesting information. Just a thought , always enjoy your message.

    • Walt

      HGTV has an entire TV series devoted to tiny houses. Some of the designs are really quite remarkable (some are also designed and built to make use of reclaimed timber). The next step in my adventure (I hope) is to hit the road in an RV (no way I could convince the wife to live in a van), but I could easily see going the tiny house route after that.

      • Bob

        Walt, Tiny Houses are a huge step in the right direction, I’m a big fan.
        It’s just not as fun (or quite as green) as being a vandweller!!

    • hotrod

      There is the belief that we live in a free country and one could simple go buy land, build a house and live freely and off grid. Well that’s true except it did not take long for the bankers to come over hear and set up their scam of theft in this free country. First do to environmental laws you we be restricted on many things like even collecting rain water on your property. Most places require you to adhere to “IBC 2014”. International building codes. So that truck tire home you wanted…..well forget that. Look for “pockets of freedom” as they are called. Places that have no building codes and allow you to camp on your own land. Most places wont let you stay in an rv on your own land unless you get permits and only if your building a to code home. And you must install septic first. Some of this I see the reason for like if your building on top a aquifer and we must protect the water from contamination. Yet if the deer can poop out on the plains than why cant i? oh yea it’s that over population thing again.

      • Bob

        hotrod, there are two kinds of control in this country:
        1) Poltical Power.Politically, we are remarkably free! Our freedom has diminished, but remains very high.
        2) Market Power: We are 100% totally slaves to the “free” market system. We depend on it for everything in our lives. We must work to get money to get food, clothes and shelter. If we don’t work, we don’t get money, without money we die.
        It’s impossible to break free from the power of the Market Economy. If you try you will either starve to death or break so many laws you will end up in jail eventually.
        The best we can do is try to reduce to a minimum our dependence on the Market economy. There are two ways to do that:
        1) Homesteading and grow your own food. As you point out, owning land puts you directly under the thumb of the Market.
        2) Vandwelling. You still have to work. But if you work 3-6 months of the year, you can have near total freedom for a long time to come.
        For me, the maximum freedom comes from vandwelling. As an incredible bonus, it’s much better for the earth.

    • Lightfoot

      This is a very good point! I love the tiny house movement, especially if it involves folks growing their own food (which is not only healthier but reduces the needs for transporting, processing, packaging, etc.) If you have a small family this is a great alternative.

      • Bob

        Lightfoot, I agree, it is a giant step in the right direction.

    • Bob

      Bob, that’s a very good point! I’m a big fan of the tiny house movement. If I didn’t have such itchy feet I would probably look into it.
      It’s probably part of my end-game for when I get older. I already have an are of land and some ideas for a semi-underground “house” on it. Hopefully that is some time away.

  9. Karen S.

    Bob, thanks for another informative, inspirational, and unique post. I enjoyed the comments too.

    • Bob

      Thanks Karen!

  10. Steveways

    In a way both sides of this post are right. Bob, you and all the other van dwellers are leaving a small carbon foot print and are trying everyday to make your lives as comfortable and at the same time as green and efficient as possible.
    But then we have to look at the other side which are the people that live what is considered the “normal” type of lifestyle here in the US and in other parts of the world also. They too are trying to make their lives as comfortable as possible and at the same time be green and efficient.
    Just as the vehicle life strives to save on using resources such as water, fuel, electricity etc, by restricting how much they use and actually producing some(solar electricity)……the conventional house dwellers have things improving by using, products and services that are efficient and echo friendly.
    Just to give a few examples, automobiles have become MUCH more efficient and cleaner. The vehicles today get 3 to 4 times better miles per gallon than the ones did 30 years ago. And they certainly spew out a lot less pollutants. Remember the leaded fuel that every car had to use because if they didn’t the valves would rattle when you took off?? You can’t find leaded gas today. I think it may even be against the law to use it. And remember the ozone hole getting bigger because of some of the things that were used that now you can’t even find if you wanted them? Freon was spewed in the air from car ACs all the time. Soooo that was brought to the attention of everyone and it was replaced by something that was less harmful( I think R12 was replaced by R22), and they are trying to replace that now for something even less harmful.
    Then there is the matter of using trees to build our houses. Yes, many years ago, there was clear cutting of forests to feed the housing boom. But there again the problem was addressed and now the United States practices reforestation, our forests have actually grown in size over the past century. In other words, they cut trees down and then they replant fast growing ones to replace them. And they rotate these tree farms or forests to have an never ending supply.
    Appliances such as toilets that now use 1 gallon of water to flush instead of 3, clothes washers that that use so little water that you can’t even see it splashing around, but your clothes get very clean. Insulation that is used in the newer houses and materials and the way they are constructed that is so much more efficient that the resources to heat and cool them are a fraction of what they were 20 years ago. And the heating and AC units are lots more efficient as well.
    I could go on and on about the technology that is being used today that is sooo much more efficient that was just a few years ago. Can anyone else think of any? I am sure you can, just look around, or better still do a internets (good ole George Bush) search. I am neither democrat or republican by the way. But I do like to poke some good hearted fun at them.
    Is it perfect….of course not. But I see the trend of the world being one of more efficient use of resources and at the same time giving us a life of modern products and services that make our lives comfortable. We are human and we DO make mistakes but thanks to science and…..yes as much as we hate to admit it……..our government and it’s agencies EPA, FDA, SSA, etc things are made to change to try to protect us and give us a good life (which not ever body gets to fully partake of for different reasons…. but I think that will improve also). And like I said it is NOT perfect but I am part of it and I have the right to vote my mind if I so choose to do so.

    • Calvin R

      Making better products is useful as far as it goes, but it doesn’t address the total number of products still consuming energy and making waste. A product that is never made consumes nothing and pollutes nothing.

    • hotrod

      I read that $1 for $1 Over a twenty year use it is still its is cheaper to insulate your home than to convert it over to solar. it can reduce energy consumption and cost. If I had my choice I would opt for complete solar system on a home from the start.

      • Bob

        Of course you could do both. Adding blown-in insulation to an attic is quite cheap and will pay for itself in a few years.

    • Bob

      Steve, I agree with you in a lot of ways. There is no doubt that in the early 70s the visible environment was so degraded we had no choice but take steps to clean it up. We could all see it and there was no doubt it MUST be done. So we did it. That’s an honorable thing to do. And today, you look around and things look pretty good, so we pat ourselves on the back and relax. We’re great!!
      The problem is that today we can an NOT see that the environment is in 1000 times more danger than it was back then. Carbon and greenhouse gasses are invisible and their massive destruction build extremely slowly over time. We’ve already pumped so much carbon into the air that in 50-100 years, catastrophe will come. But we are just starting to get a hint of what is to come. But not bad enough that we can’t keep ignoring it.
      Those pesky scientists keep telling us, but we just call them liars, fools and greedy puppets of the government and corporations. That way we don’t have to listen to them.
      But what if they all aren’t liars and fools?
      It’s probably already to late, no one knows for sure. The one thing that’s certain is there is no time to dawdle, drastic changes need to be made NOW.

  11. hotrod

    Hi Bob,
    Lately you have been going into directions that in many ways I am in agreement with but for different reasons. It may be beneficial to others, interested in Mobil lifestyles, to know that it is not necessary to embrace a political and religious philosophy in order to succeed at it. I respect your opinions and thank you for this opportunity to share mine.
    As an individual human my primarily concerned is about surviving this economic environment. Not worshiping mother earth. A concern that arises for me when I see others adopt a green religion is it clearly moves into a dangerous zones. Communism, anti freedom and racism. While I know that we as a people can live sustainably I am not willing to go in the opposite direction and submit to “Agenda 21” to achieve it. Research it. It’s a plan by the United Nations to move us all (the ones they will allow to live) to very, very small multi room apartments in congested cities. All this in order to keep Mother Nature pure. That I am afraid is very evil. I will never be part of it and they will have to kill me. Which they most likely will.
    I would never pour gas into a river but have no problem eating fish from it. If we are not carful we might become some type of environmental dictators who use mother earth as a tool to police people, take land from people, control and dominate their lives. Steal wealth.I respect people who use common sense and will not pollute the earth, rivers, streams & the land beyond the earth’s ability to absorb it.
    I acknowledge my own sins and the sins of my forefathers but, I m also aware of the many blessings and good things they have done as well and hold then in great regard and with respect. I would like to share that at one time I live in a large house with four other groups a people. Mostly it was great however it soon became clear that one group ( a large one I might add) who constantly proved themselves to be takers. Most did not work used drugs and received money and benefits from the government while at the same time spoke like they hated everything and everyone who created it. They showed up when we would bbq on queue and hit us up for all our beers and food then leave. Never did they bring anything. There have been a few people like this I have know over the years. I find them unbearable and they would have no place in my camp.
    I have no tolerance for inferior goods. Things made that will not last or have 5 cent piece of plastic that when broken voids a $300.00 item. It becomes useless and must be replaced. This is as far as I am concerned a consumer crime. I would love to have a large home and see nothing wrong with it. That is if it is well built to last hundreds of years and is void of planed obsolescence designs. Yes I would love to own and live there. I am just not willing to work my whole life to pay (criminal bankers) for it. Let’s not forget property tax a crime against nature imho.
    So it is possible to live this lifestyle and hold a different philosophy from the green folks on the very far left. Thank you for letting me share Bob

    • Bob

      The great thing about vandwelling is that you don’t have to choose between a good life or a pro-environment life. They are one in the same thing.
      99% of the time I appeal to our selfishness to become vandwellers–you will be healthier and happier and it’s just plain fun!!!
      This time I’m appealing to our sense of right and wrong–you have an obligation to future generations to leave them an earth as healthy as you found it, if not better. If you leave them an earth that is in terrible shape and will directly result in millions of their deaths, that is deeply evil.

  12. Cae

    I’m pretty sure I couldn’t enjoy my vagabond life if it were not for the common man working and wanting a house.
    I life a frugal and minimalist life so that I may have my time as free as possible, but I don’t kid myself about my role on this planet. There are just too many people !! I don’t agree with most demographers about population growth in to the future. Trees don’t grow to the sun. Just a graphical analysis of the world population growth over the last 500 years indicates a strong correction is it too far away.

    • Bob

      Cae, I have to agree, everyone seems paralyzed because their isn’t a solution. if there is no solution, I don’t have to do anything at all. Even if I could do something that would drastically help, I still don’t have to do it.
      Well, you laid out a solution, less people. Unfortunately we can’t do anything about that, so the earth will.

      • Lucy

        TOO many people on earth & growing as we speak & YES, there is a solution to OVERPOPULATION !!! All couples will be allowed to have NO MORE than 2 KIDS in their life-time ( world-wide ) !! That’s a solution…
        If you go down south of the border & / or middle east countries for example, couples have 8, 10, 15 kids…yes, there is a solution BIRTH-CONTROL !!!
        Am I radical, I think not, I’m just been REALISTIC & PRACTICAL.
        My regards, Lucy.

        • Bob

          I think you’re onto something Lucy, but it’s much easier said than done!

          • Lucy

            True Bob,is easier said than done, but is not an impossible if the 7G ,or the 20 G moguls rather than getting together for / with economic purposes they get together & discuss how to control population growth, that could a beginning. Am I @ dreamer ? perhaps, but eventually something has to be done about the exponential growth of the human race otherwise we’ll be doomed SOONER than later.
            Just a thought, Bob…all changes, solutions, discoveries etc begin with a SINGLE thought in someone’s mind.
            My regards, Lucy.
            PS: That thought could be something like an UNIVERSAL LAW that stipulates that the maximun amount of children to a couple will be 2 ! Didn’t China had a law of that sort ??

          • Bob

            Lucy, this is a topic I’ve not given any thought to so I can’t really comment. Obviously there are too many people and we need to reduce our population but I don’t see any reasonable course to do anything about it and there really isn’t anything I can do about it since I’m not going to have any more kids.
            I stick to things I can do something about and encourage others to do something about.

  13. Mark

    Great post, not many chances for one to say but, but, but, bbbbbbut.
    There’s always going to be an argument for this or that. Bottom line is there was a time when us humans walked the earth and lived in natural dwellings (caves, etc…).
    So any argument regarding housing today versus the cave times is pretty much moot.
    Hopefully the more educated we become, the more we become smarter about our resources and the most efficient way to use them will save the planet.

    • Bob

      Mark one theory is that all we need to do is be better managers of our resources. They are ours, they belong to us, we just have to be smarter with them.
      I believe that theory is so fundamentally flawed, it’s doomed to failure.
      Our only hope is that we start to see ourselves as a PART of the natural community, NOT the OWNER of it. It GIVES to us, as a gift, everything we need for life. We then, receive it HUMBLY as a gift, not as our birthright as owners, masters and superiors.
      That is the difference between humans for the first few million years of our existence, and humans of the last 10,000 years of civilization. Once that is solved, everything will fall into place.
      Unfortunately, it will take an incredible disaster to even begin to push us into that kind of thinking. So here it comes.

  14. green

    Don’t kill the Messenger!
    If you don’t like the message, check yourself.
    Why do you feel attacked? Nobody’s telling you what to do. The simple fact is
    we are not likely to survive as a species
    unless we each take drastic, responsible action.

    • Steveways

      I don’t think anyone wants to “kill” the messenger, but instead have the message delivered in a more open and fair way. There is more than just one side to this story.
      I am sure that except for the ones that just want doom and gloom to dominate things, that most people want our world to be healthy and comfortable to live in. And want things that are harming our world to stop. But change in certain areas comes slowly because the infrastructure has been set up for decades that served us well but needs to change for us to progress in a clean and green way. One example is electric vehicles and the systems needed to supply the charge facilities to keep them going all over the US. Although that is being done presently it takes time to change the system over from a petroleum based system(gas stations)to an electric charge based (charge stations on highways, at buildings, homes, etc)one. Some technologies change quickly(IT, internet, computers, etc) and others which are ingrained and have elements that need to be phased out(gas stations, and the internal combustion cars)take a lot longer.
      Patience is what it takes, and sometimes slow but sure progress.
      If the negative is always put forth(the Earth is going to be polluted beyond livable conditions, not enough is being done to stave it off, we are all wasteful destroyers of Earth, the government and greedy businesses are trying to kill all the innocent people for their own benefit, etc)…..why even try, you are defeated before you begin.
      We also need to hear about the progress and improvements that are being made(and there are plenty of them), to give a sense of accomplishment so we will all(van and regular house dwellers)will strive to keep going in that direction. Success breeds success. As well as complete negativeness breeds failure (I have to work on that myself at times).
      No one is killing the messenger…..just delivering a different message.

      • Bob

        I don’t think it’s fair to say that I dwell on the negative. Quite the opposite, I intend my message to be one of hope–you can have a better life and here’s how ….
        But we don’t have to speculate, go back and count the ratio of positive messages to negative messages. I’m not going to do it, but it’s probably 100 or 200 positive for every negative.
        Much more interesting to me is the strong negative reaction to even one negative message.
        You said: “Patience is what it takes, and sometimes slow but sure progress.”
        The science is in, and it’s conclusive, there is no more time every delay means a much stronger catastrophe in the future.

        • Sunday

          The science is NOT conclusive Bob. You have used language in these last two posts so over the top you have hurt your cause not helped it. You refuse to consider any scientific report or opinion contrary to your own. It is useless to comment. This is why you are getting so many positive posts and few negative. People who disagree know you cannot discuss this topic with you as you are a zealot. How many more posts do you plan on this topic? Please move on.

          • Calvin R

            So what constitutes “conclusive”? Science is geared to finding evidence, not to absolute conclusions.

          • Bob

            Sunday, the science of the greenhouse effect is so simple and basic, it really is conclusive.
            1) Carbon in the atmosphere causes the planet to warm. The more carbon there is, the warmer it gets.
            2) We’re pumping huge amounts of carbon into the air.
            3) The planet will warm up.
            These simple statements are not debated anywhere in science, they are established as true.
            The theory of gravity has been accepted as conclusively established as true, however, it’s just a theory. However, no one jumps off a building because they don’t believe in the theory of gravity. The statements above are very nearly as conclusive and yet many of us are betting our children’s future that they aren’t. It makes no sense to me.
            Somehow I missed any scientific reports that in any way contradict the greenhouse affect. Can you send me those to me again.

      • Steve

        Agreed. I appreciate Bob and his efforts on this site. I have benefited greatly from his posts. I just disagree with SOME of his conclusions. No animosity, just respectful and healthy discussion.

        • Sunday

          I take issue with the over the top language: “all” “every” “conclusive” “proven”, etc. and the attack language used by you towards those who do not 100% agree with you in these last two posts……partial agree is not enough. Questioning data is not allowed. It is all agreement or off with your head.
          If you are interested you can find questioning data on the net. I do not believe you are interested in the questioning side. You have made up your mind and anyone who does not agree is to be squashed.
          You asked so here are some links showing why some of us believe in weather cycles and continue to question with an open mind:

          • Sunday
          • Bob

            Sunday, here’s the thing, climate change is this incredibly complex subject with thousands of different and unrelated parts. It’s like a giant puzzle. I get newsletters that tell me all the latest scientific studies and the puzzle is remarkably complete revealing an overall pattern of a rapidly warming planet that you can see in dozens of different ways.
            When I look at the deniers I see two main things:
            1) They are focusing on one piece of the puzzle and making a big deal out of it like it negates the whole puzzle. That isn’t valid thinking. No doubt some parts of the puzzle are wrong, no one denies that. Many assumptions have to be made in every future projection and sometimes they are wrong, it’s the nature of science to follow every lead, and some are dead ends. That’s inevitable and to be expected.
            Throwing out the whole puzzle (that is mostly coming together exactly as predicted) because of a few bad pieces is a mistake.
            A few times their accusations have seemed valid and worrisome so I’ve checked them out. In each instance there was no validity to their claims. But I’ll give them an A+ for creativity in twisting the truth into something unrecognizable.
            2) Their main thrust is character assassination. Sometimes it’s aimed at an individual, for example, some of your links basically say “James Hanson is an evil liar.” Or they make broad generalizations at an institution, “the scientists at NASA and NOAA have a conspiracy to falsify data to try to prove something they know to be a lie.”
            All of them reek of yellow journalism to me, and I give them no credibility.

          • Bob

            Sunday, I will plead guilty to using hyperbole, I’m very passionate about my beliefs.
            However you said: “attack language used by you towards those who do not 100% agree with you” I’m sorry but I wasn’t aware I was doing that. I’m not saying I didn’t do it, just that I did not do it intentionally. If you would please cut and paste that in, I will deeply apologize because that is unacceptable behavior.
            You also said: “Questioning data is not allowed. It is all agreement or off with your head.” I hope you can see the irony of making that statement in a post where you question all my data and post links trying to disprove it. You are my proof that your statement is incorrect.
            The interesting thing about all your links talking about NOAA changing the weather records is that I didn’t see where they presented NOAAs side of story. That doesn’t seem like good journalism or science to me. Here is what NOAA says about why they changed the weather records:
            Without data to prove them wrong, I don’t see any reason to not believe them. A big deal is made about them changing the ocean temperature records, and I have done some research on that and from what I saw that was totally justified. At one time they simply lifted a bucket of water out of the ocean and put a thermometer in it. It’s easy for me to believe that introduced a consistent error and would need corrected.

          • Sunday

            You requested to know what attack language I was speaking of, go back and read your comments about Christians and Republicans and perhaps you can now see that your statements were over the top and untrue.
            I am a Republican, so according to you I hate my children and I do not care about the country or the earth where my grandchildren will reside.
            I am a Christian so according to you God tells me to destroy the earth……really?
            China, India, Indonesia etc, etc, etc, are not Christian nations but somehow Christians are responsible for their environmental issues.
            My belief in God makes me deluded and teaches me mother earth is sinful and I am to hate it and subdue it….really?
            After God completed the making of the earth: Genesis 1:31 “God looked at what He had done. All of it was good!”
            Keep religion and politics out of your blog please …… that was your rule you just broke. I have enjoyed your site for a long time and have learned a great deal but you have shown disrepect to readers who have done nothing to deserve it other than be of a different politial party, be believers in Jesus Christ and question “climate change/global warming”. I am disappointed. Your own personal hatred of Christians is now clearly known.
            “Steve, the worst of the environmental damage and human slaughter has all been done in the last 2000 years under the leadership of “Chrisitian” nations under the deluded belief they were doing gods will. The ridiculous doctrine of original sin held that the flesh, which included the physical earth itself, was sinful and must be hated and subdued. Until the middle of the 1900s, it literally was a hatred of the earth. So they slaughtered the Pagans in Jesus name and cut down every bit of wilderness they could because it was evil darkness.”
            “The question is no longer what’s good for the country, it’s how many of our own children are we going to kill and the Republicans are dedicated to killing as many as they can.”
            “I’ve voted a straight Republican ticket my entire life, today I’ll never vote for another Republican again. Right now, they are the only conservative party in the entire world that opposes the science of climate change. It’s a form of collective insanity they’ve brought on themselves.”
            From a reader: Bob, you present your position with such passion that I suspect regular readers who disagree will simply not post. On the Forum when climate change comes up, there are several who are not so shy.”

          • Bob

            Sunday, because I believe those statements to be 100% true, I’m not going to apologize or change any of them. I don’t have time, but I can give you dozens of Bible versus about how evil the flesh is and dozens more that say that includes the physical world. God did say it was good until Adam and Eve sinned then he called it corrupt and fallen and it needed to be subdued. Original sin and the punishment for it didn’t just fall on Adam and Eve, it fell onto the entire creation and it will all be punished until the new heaven and new earth are ushered in by the destruction of everything and everyone else. “For all have sinned” includes the planet as well.
            In the last 2000 years Christians have killed hundreds of thousands of people around the world in the name of Christ because it’s okay to kill the flesh in order to save the spirit. It’s equally okay to destroy the environment because like all flesh and material things, it’s fallen and evil
            The new Republican Congress is doing everything it can to overturn all the advances made recently in protecting the environment. Anything they can possibly roll back they are trying to roll back. I’ll say it again, I’ve voted a straight Republican ticket my entire life, today I’ll never vote for another Republican again. And I encourage every person who cares about the environemnt to do the same.
            This has come up in two posts out of 100s and probably won’t come up again for many more. It comes with me because that’s who I am.

    • Bob

      green, there is very little chance our species will be wiped out, that’s extremely unlikely. It’s very fair to say unless we act today, their are very, very bad times to come.

  15. green

    We don’t have time to hold hands and sing kumbayah…

    • Bob

      I’d have to agree with that.

  16. lisa

    I love reading your stuff. I soon hope to be a Van dweller- I own a home and all the fancy gadgets in it and you know what- none of them make me happy!- want to get out to nature and live an enjoyable life-
    I will agree on the middle class even thou we are “broke” everyone i know has at least 3 or more tv’s in their home,video game consoles, everyone has a smart phone, and tons of product in the bathroom!

    • Bob

      Thanks Lisa! I totally understand how you feel! Buying stuff never made me happy either! I loved the search for it, but once i had it, I just didn’t care anymore.
      The “poor” in this county live better than 2/3s of the people on the planet right now. And yet we never rank high on surveys of life satisfaction, we kill ourselves, medicate ourselves with drugs and alcohol and we have an epidemic of depression and an explosion of anti-depressant prescriptions.
      Our society simply does not work.
      If the goal of a country is happy citizens, we are a great failure. If it’s to buy crap that makes us unhappy and destroys the environment, we are the greatest country of all time.

  17. Steveways

    Well, as you said Bob this is a consumer driven society, and I don’t think that will change. And unfortunately lots of people don’t look at what products they buy and use are harmful to our Earth. They do, however, lots of times, look at how those products affect their monetary life. An example, if a person is shopping for a vehicle they first usually look at the sticker price, then they want to know how many MPG it gets. Two very important things that save them money. The EPA ratings of how much emissions it produces is not usually first on the list of buying that car.They depend on the people they voted for to take care of that.
    I would say that would usually apply to most other consumer items as well. Another example….say they come out with an AGM deep cycle battery that charges in half the time and is rated to last 7 years instead of 5 because of the newer materials it is made from? And maybe costs about the same as the older type batteries. Are you going to be buying that battery from now on? I think that you definitely would.
    But….. is your first reason for starting to buy that battery because of it is better for our Earth because it lasts longer and doesn’t have to be recycled as much and it takes less raw resources to charge it? I am not sure, but now at the risk of putting words in your mouth, I think your first knee jerk reaction is because it is going to save you a pretty good amount of money in the long run. Sure, you are also thinking that it is going to be less stress on the Earth (because we know that’s the kinda person you are). But I think most consumers think with their money and comfort first. “What’s in it for me” not “How will this purchase affect the Earth” It seems that is just the way humans are.
    What I am thinking is since consumerism somewhat got us into this mess of harming our Earth then consumerism can get us out by using products that are not as harmful to the Earth and provide us with better products, that make that life better and more comfortable. It doesn’t matter how we get there but that we do get there. Technology is the road to that.
    I don’t think you are going to get people to buy products and have and do things, that are more responsible to our environment, but they will use and consume and do the ones that better them personally. You have to play to that.

    • Bob

      Steve, I’m a big believer in appealing to peoples self-interest, that’s the foundation of this entire website: “You will be healthier and happier by becoming a vandweller.”
      Here’s the problem, we don’t have time to slowly change peoples attitudes, even assuming they can be changed, which I doubt. We aren’t going to change a lifetime of brainwashing (called advertising) in a year or two, not even in a decade–and that’s all we’ve got.

  18. Linda Sand

    While I agree with most of what you say it does bug me a little that you present the house as new but the van as used. Most of us who owned homes bought used.
    If I was ever going to buy another house I would look seriously at these: Kind of a cross between tiny houses and eco communities. It’s hard to buy a used one, though, because they so seldom come on the market.

    • Bob

      Linda, there are many new home-owners coming on the market looking for homes. If there are no used homes, they will buy a new home. When I move out on older, smaller home and into a van, that home becomes available to a new buyer to buy it instead of a new home.
      Moving out of an older home, kept a brand new home from being built because that buyer bought my home instead.
      One more thing, remember I took the whole 9000 pounds of the van and trailer just like it was a new vehicle made just for me to live in so I did compare new to new. Either way, it’s 500,000 pounds of materials extracted from the earth compared to 9000.

  19. JD

    2001 Chevy G3500 Extended Express Van–6×10 converted cargo trailer–570 watts of Solar Panels–Honda 2000 generator–Honda Rebel 250
    That’s a pretty good collection of stuff Bob. And not to mention the online store you promote, the pinnacle of consumerism, bigger now than the other big box store you talk about.

    • Bob

      JD, all or nothing thinking will be the death of the future of our children. Just because I can’t live 100% perfectly does NOT mean I shouldn’t do it 50%.
      I can’t even begin to understand you’re way of thinking–unless you are just looking for an excuse to do nothing.

    • Lucy

      JD, U are SO RIGHT, Bob’s vehicles collection reminds me of Elvis Presley’ cars collection & his converted Cargo trailer is a duplicate of Graceland !!
      My regards, Lucy.
      PS: Don’t U love Lucy ?

      • Bob

        You caught me Lucy! My cargo trailer actually folds out to a 5000 foot McMansion! It has very creative use of space.

  20. Openspaceman

    Not sure how they came up with this number but according to the LA times the avg. U.S. household has over 300,000 items in it.
    The avg. fulltime vandweller/rv’r, i’m confident has significantly less.
    Vandwellers 1, Trolls 0.
    I’ m just kidding around…the reason I live in a van is to save up to do some traveling and take a break from the rat race.
    Henry Miller says a destination, “is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.” That being said he was a pretty crazy dude.

    • Bob

      Thanks Openspaceman!

  21. Al Christensen

    I was camped by the Green River, watching the water flow and flow and flow and flow and flow… I got thinking about how much water passed me each hour. A HUGE amount. Yet all that water, plus all the water of other hundreds of miles of rivers that join the Colorado, gets used up before it can reach the Sea of Cortez. Enormous amounts go to agriculture, but a lot gets piped to millions of homes for long showers, dish washers, lawns, fountains, pools…
    I’ve got my direct water used down to about two gallons a week, partly because I’ve grown used to not bathing every day, partly because I don’t dirty a lot of dishes, and partly because I’m lazy about going to get more water. My big water use is doing a load of laundry every two or three weeks and washing the van every couple of months.
    When I was a house dweller, I would get the evil eye from neighbors because my lawn wasn’t as lush as they thought it should be. Sorry, folks, but I just couldn’t make myself dump all that water (and chemicals) on the grass. I used to crack, “If God wants me to have a nice lawn, He’ll make it rain more.”
    I probably burn more gasoline than most vandwellers, because I like to travel. But it’s still less than when I commuted every day, and when I “had” to go shopping for stuff to fill my house.
    But the big benefit for me is not having so much of my money and time spent maintaining a building that limits my life.

    • Bob

      Two gallons a week is pretty amazing Al! You are the champion!
      I agree, it’s nice to know we are doing a good thing for the earth, but best of all is we aren’t pouring our lives energy into something totally meaningless and void of value like a house so I can hold more stuff.

  22. Linda Sand

    In my van I used about 2 gallons of water per day. Mostly because I ate a lot of food that was just add water stuff. Two cups of water three times a day adds up. Add 1/2 cup to wash me and 1/2 cup to brush my teeth plus occasional dishwashing and that pretty much left enough to shower once a week. My water heater held 2.5 gallons and I only heated it enough to shower without turning on the cold at all so you know my showers were short compared to what people living in houses usually take. Nothing like fear of running out of warmth to motivate you to take quick showers. 🙂

  23. jeff

    Well said Bob! I used to have an oversized kitchen with a shiny huge granite countertop and stainless steel appliances.My ex wife is trying to sell the house. Now I own a single burner stove with a 1lb. disposable Coleman propane tank. Much easier to maintain! You are a man with much wisdom and a different drummer! Jeff the nomad.

    • Bob

      Jeff, there is just no doubt that vandwellers live much simpler lives than housedwellers. You are living proof!

  24. Fishbird

    Have really enjoyed all your posts and look forward to lots more. I have learned more than I could have ever hoped to when I first found your site.
    I am, however, sorry that you have taken so many “hits” as of late from readers that don’t necessarily agree with either your political, philosophical or scientific perspective. I, for one, certainly agree with your perspective and understand how your recent rip out west led you to share some of your thoughts in your blog. Nonetheless, a blog is a tool for an individual or group to disseminate information that they are passionate about. It is not designed to be a democracy that caters to everyone’s point of view. If others don’t like your point of view so be it, but I find it pointless for them to protest in endless jeremiads (ala Sunday) as if the blog belonged to them.
    Keep up the good fight!

    • Bob

      Thanks for your positive feedback Fishbird, I very much appreciate the support!
      I don’t mind the differences of opinion, there is an old saying “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpen another.” I’m often lazy in my thinking, being challenged on it forces me to think deeply and do the research. In fact, the more I’m challenged, the more certain I am because it forces me to defend my positions.
      I’m actually grateful for them!

  25. Alan

    Bob, I want to add a comment about water savings: In short, it goes way beyond vandwellers’ reduced domestic use.
    1. By buying and using fewer products, we’re saving huge amounts of water up the industrial production chain.
    2. By often producing our own electricity and using far less, we’re saving huge amounts of fresh water that is usually depleted by electric plants from reservoir evaporation, turbine steam, and thermal pollution when heated water is returned to lakes and streams.
    3. I would also venture that vandwellers waste less food because we don’t have huge fridges to overstock. (I know this is true of me. I buy less more often and eat almost everything I buy. No time or space to let it rot!) Agriculture is one of the biggest water uses we have.
    So, yes we have a smaller carbon footprint, but we’re also far greener than we realize when it comes to husbanding fresh water stocks.

    • Bob

      Alan, I totally agree but most people aren’t aware of how precious water is our how much energy is used to transport and treat it. Explaining that would require more than a blog post and still wouldn’t have the impact on people it should have.
      Without any doubt, the day is coming when water will be the most important thing in the world but proving that is just too complicated for my purposes. I drive around and see how we are wasting it and I think there is no hope for us as a species that we can be this stupid!!!!!
      But, I very much appreciate you pointing it out! You are totally correct!

      • Alan

        My dad, who was born in 1946, told me once he remembered hearing a lecture cautioning a future of fresh water scarcity — when he was a boy. So that would have been the late ’50s to early ’60s? He thought it was crazy at the time. He lived in Upstate New York, with creeks everywhere and lots of rain. As he got older, though, he saw the problems. He died in 1987, so even in the ’80s when he was telling me his, he could see it developing with his own eyes. And he wasn’t a scientist or anything, just an outdoorsman interested in conservation.
        Global warming was first discussed around the same time, I think. Al Gore first heard about it in college, as I recall, and he’s the same generation as my dad. As a species, we’re a bit slow to incorporate some kinds of information.

        • Bob

          Alan, I’m afraid the basic message of climate change is very threatening to many people, it threatens their most treasured religious and political beliefs so they simply can’t bear the thought of it being true. They’ll believe anything before they’ll accept the simple logic of science.

  26. Genise

    I have really enjoyed reading your posts. You are an amazing free bird. I grew up in a bus converted into a motor home as my dad was a Millwright and traveled the US building power plants and paper mills and such. He was a biker and the life style is very much as yours is. I grew up and bought my owner travel trailer a bumper pull then as I got married and had children we moved up into a 40 foot fifth wheel as my kids were growing up. I have always known a life on the road. I did at one time rent a house for about a year and I was so unhappy. Your grounded to one place , no freedom , stuck paying whatever the utility companies want to charge you at what rate they choose because it is a law in most states that you must have the utilities turned on if you are residing in the home. I do not believe in our public school system, especially with so many shootings and drugs being passed around like the common milk break. So, I homeschooled my children. I unfortunately had to sell my fifth wheel to help a family member in medical need for their child. I am now stuck renting a small house but still a house. I am terribly unhappy here. I do however have almost enough saved now to change my way of life again. I have always had an RV. This time Im feeling a bit more adventurous!!! Im going to purchase a cargo trailer 6×12 , which my Toyota 4Runner 4×4 all wheel drive can handle pulling… My dad was my hero and my everything , lost him a few years ago in AZ to a fatal Harley accident, so this will be my first conversion all by myself with the help of my 16 year old daughter. Im very excited. My daughter is as well. I plan to go with solor and a Yamaha 2000 generator for back up and running heavier electrical items when needed. I do have to say I miss my dad with all my being… but you BOB are an inspiration and I believe he would of really like you. I hope one day we cross paths so I can give you a big hug and share a cup of coffee over a camp fire. In my fire pit that is mobile and does not leave any fire damage behind! Thank you for your blogs and words of wisdom.

  27. Tom. Ensley

    Bob I respect many things you say, but we need to stop burning wood which is a very bad producer of pollution. I almost die from formaldehyde and that’s one of many poisons produced from burning anything and wood and coal are the worst. Studies tell us wood fumes can shorten our lives by 10 to 14 years many say it’s worse then cigarette fumes. So please practice what we preach and stop burning wood. Please

  28. packnrat

    sad you only look at all this one way.
    as you say you gas gussling van is green?
    it took raw rock and lots of coal to build it.
    but pleas not to start a fight here. but even a stick house can be green.
    my place was built in 1952. i was born in 1959.
    but the yards are the real green part.
    my property is about a 1/2 acre.
    small house. yes lots of junk in it.
    but outside the birds love it.
    four anchent natave oak trees. + many other mature plants. ground cover is mostly native weeds.
    very small grass front yard and it goes brown in the summer. with dead spots.
    but one must remember only the green part of a plant make o2 for us to breath.
    yes i have been in some houses that are horable at best.
    mine was built before ac was a common thing. windows gave light from the sun.
    heck even my heater uses nat heat rising to spread the heat aka: no fan.
    ones life style is more important that the place called home.
    with all this said in a short number of years i am selling this house. (recycled to new owners)
    and moving into my 24 ft rv. also a older unit.
    and most places ( at least in the past) i have not seen any “clear cutting” to make room for housing.
    and these days the trees that are cut were planted to be cut for varied reasons.
    old growth is safe.
    lumber companys want profit not costs. old growth costs but is a better wood.
    yes i drive one of those belching machines on the hwy’s.
    people need food. goods and supplys. everything we have was delivered by a big truck at some point.
    after being made.
    supplies to make it also.
    it would be great for our air and water if every country would conserve and do less damage to the planet.
    America is far from the worst country doing damage.
    and we are getter better.
    we as humans need to produce less trash to start.
    maybe cut out that extra trip to the store,
    not buy that thing just because.

  29. ChrisK

    Good article Bob, Being a minimalist as most van dwellers are, is more green than most people living the 9-5 rat race. I would venture a guess, that most “commuters” drive farther every day than most nomads, and consume all sorts of packaged products that all have to be processed for their convenience.

  30. LaJoyce Stewart

    I am 81 years old – have a new back 1 new hip broke 1 ankle broke 1 leg and about to have my second knee replacement no I do not have frail bones and my health is very good – but concrete and broken streets are very hard on our bodies – we were created to walk on the earth (ground) I plan to join Bob and his crew in July in a (now being converted full size 1994 van)(converted by my son with solar} I feel blessed – will be doing my hiking on the earth enjoying the great life of freedom – fun and fresh air – wow!!!! I cannot wait’.

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