Mindful Updates to Turn a Van into a Home

A physical home, no matter how small, is where you’re meant to feel at ease in a little nook of the earth you call “mine”. To me, home is sacred — somewhere I want to enrich with positivity and fresh air and only physical items I enjoy using and being around.

I yearn for my home on wheels to be filled with raw materials — wooden furniture; glass jars; a wool blanket; cotton sheets; pretty gems and stones — and especially, less plastic.

And, hey! It’s not just for a frivolous Instagram shot. It’s simply because I love how it feels to be surrounded by pure, beautiful things.

I want to be intentional about what I keep, and living in a van (or any small space) is a prime opportunity to do that. You can look at every item with intention and ask yourself if it brings you joy (or utility), and if it doesn’t, let it go. 

When space is limited you must be ruthless about what deserves its place. [tweet]

The first stage of the van build-out felt rushed — I laid down the bare bones of the interior without building any storage space, so I’ve accumulated a few pieces that I’d like to swap out for more mindful alternatives.

As I’m parked in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania this week building out a bed and cabinetry, my goal is to eliminate as much plastic as possible.

I feel so honored to have a place to call my own, even if it’s “just” on four wheels. It’s mine. And I want to make it into a special space that I’m excited to spend every day and night.

I’ll give you an update on this project in the next few weeks, but here’s the current plastics situation in the van and my goals:

  • Big plastic storage bins hold my food and living items. I’m swapping those out for the wooden cabinetry I’m currently building.
  • I use a plastic gallon jug to refill for drinking water. I’d love to find a big glass jug instead. I was thinking of a growler. And bonus. I get to drink a LOT of beer first.
  • I haphazardly keep all of my art supplies in a big plastic bag. They deserve more love and attention than that. I’m hoping to upgrade to a canvas rollup brush and pen organizer.
  • I keep trash in plastic grocery bags and toss ‘em every day. I hate this habit! I want to get some type of a seal-able bin or jar for trash (hopefully of which I won’t have much) and empty it daily instead.
  • I accumulate plastic almost every day stopping for food and drinks. I’m going to try to shop in bulk as much as possible and figure out a good way to buy a little bit of greens at a time (maybe from a local farmer), so I don’t waste a big plastic carton. Also, I usually don’t eat all the greens before they spoil.

If you’re looking for inspiration on downsizing and creating mindful living spaces, here are some favorites I go to regularly:

Zero Waste Home — Run by Bea Johnson, an incredible proponent of simple, sustainable living.

The Chef’s Table episode featuring Francis Mallmann — Pour yourself some vino and feast your eyes on this South American treat.

A Well Traveled Woman — Pure visual goodness. I love Bekah’s eye for natural, raw beauty.

Life is more than things, but having things is inevitable, so why not choose things you really love? [tweet]

I’ve also heard a lot about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but have yet to read it. Have you? Would you recommend it? Do you have any other resources you’d like to share? Feel free to reply or comment!

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