Want the scoop on sustainable van life? Look no further than Dustin and Noami, the duo - along with their dog Amara - behind Irie to Aurora, who are helping to inspire sustainability and diversity within van life! Interview by Tara McKenna, Founder of The Zero Waste Collective.
Tell us about yourselves:
Hi, we’re Dustin & Noami, outdoor enthusiasts and eco-vanlifers who have been living on the road in our 85’ Westy since 2016. Our passion and love for wild places has driven us to pursue a life of minimalism and sustainability.
We’re currently pursuing a low-waste lifestyle and raising awareness of the detrimental effects of plastic pollution. Follow our journey as we learn to blur the line between work and play as digital nomads @irietoaurora!
How and why did you get into van life?
The idea came when Dustin and I met in college. We bonded over our love for the outdoors and we always fantasized about road tripping to all the National Parks. But of course, life got in the way. Or, more accurately, society’s idea of the lives we were supposed to be living.
After years of competing in the rat race, it felt as if we were living someone else's idea of success and happiness, consuming too much and not living enough. So we decided to reevaluate our life’s trajectory and pursue some passions that had taken a back seat.
We sold most of our possessions and bought a 1985 Volkswagen Vanagon which would soon become our full-time home.
How have you integrated sustainable living on the road, and what tips can you share?
Well, we always aim for low-waste. This should be a priority for every vanlifer, for obvious reasons. Low-waste living helps maximize space and reduce what we send to the landfill.
Here are a few of the ways we’ve integrated sustainable living on the road:
Shop Secondhand: One of the best recycling systems available! We rotate seasonal gear and clothing through this system.
Solar and Rechargeable: Most vanlifers already use energy from the sun to power our life on the road. As digital nomads, energy efficiency is crucial for our work-life balance.
Travel Slow: It’s easy to get caught up wanting to see and do it all, but magic happens when you travel at the speed of slow.
In your experience, is it possible to be zero/low waste on the road?
I think it is possible. It requires intentionality and creativity, like meal planning which is where most of the waste we produce comes from. We shop in bulk as much as possible in order to cut down on unnecessary packaging and waste, this allows us to buy only what we need.
And, we eat more plant-based, in-season whole foods.
How do you practice self care on the road?
Self care to me is taking monthly digital detoxes, doing yoga, going for a run, strength training on my TRX. Even if it’s just 20 minutes a day, no matter where I am - city, boondocking - I find that when I give my body movement it helps ground me and uplifts my mood. I also drink lots of water and escape into the wilderness as often as possible.
Parting tips for anyone looking to jump into sustainable van life:
Start small. Pick one or two things that are doable for you. Know that it’s a continuous journey, and it will get easier. Have fun with it! Living sustainably doesn’t have to be a chore. The more you learn and grow, the more enjoyable it will be.