Mindful Consumption: Being Aware of Everything You Use and Throw Away
January is behind us and we have spent all but a few nights boondocking out in the California and Arizona deserts. All of this existing out in the middle of nowhere has started me thinking about this lifestyle and how aware you become of everything you rely on to live.
This awareness is very different to our last sticks and bricks house in San Diego. We lived in a condo building where we didn't even have to look after our own water tank, it just came out of the faucet. Without a second thought we could heat and air condition our home, our packages were signed for by the wonderful front desk staff and we simply dropped our trash down a chute never to be thought of again.
The contrast with how we live now couldn't be more stark. We are acutely aware of everything. Let's think about the weather... after all, we think about it all the time. The daily questions we ask ourselves - Will it be sunny enough for us to generate solar energy? Will it rain or be so windy that we have to pull in our awnings, and stow our outside belongings under the trailer? Will it pour down so much that we might get stuck in the mud? Will it be too hot for us to sleep at night. If the sun is not shining we have to think how long can we make our stored battery power last. Maybe we don't watch TV or we head out to a coffee shop to charge up our phones and computers instead. We could use our portable propane heater that unlike our trailer furnace doesn't use electricity. If we really get no sun for several days in a row we may have to relocate somewhere to plug in and recharge our batteries.
We carry the fuel with us that we need to cook, heat our water, chill our refrigerator and warm our trailer. Knowing where we can get a refill of propane is always on our list of things we need to be mindful of everywhere we camp. We also carry all the water we need with us. Thinking about the water you use makes you acutely aware of every time you turn a tap. We never let clean water freely run down the drain. We take navy showers, using just enough water to get ourselves clean but no more. As well as what we use up, we are also acutely aware of what we discard. We have to think about what waste water is in our tanks and where we will be able to dump those tanks when needed.
Making sure we have fresh food takes planning, because we are often not close to a supermarket. Just popping out to grab an onion is not really viable when you are 40 miles from the nearest town. Even trash requires some thought. When we leave to run an errand, we have to think "do we have trash that we should take with us to dispose of when we are out?". Finding somewhere to recycle is also high on our list, and it often takes some detective work to locate recycling facilities.
Finally of course there is staying in touch with the rest of the world. Getting physical mail and deliveries deserves a post all of it's own. We have to plan ahead for the best way to receive anything that is sent to us. We always have to know whether we can get a good enough cell signal to get the internet we need for work or entertainment. We rarely stay anywhere too long if we don't have a good data connection. We have realized that persistent connectivity is something we want and need to maximize our enjoyment of this lifestyle.
Reading this post might make you think, what a lot of hassle living on the road is, but we don't find it a burden at all. Having limited resources and being at the mercy of the weather makes you appreciate the environment and everything around you so much more. We are very mindful consumers, rarely buying what we don't need or ever wasting anything. What could be better than that?