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"Don't throw that away" she said, "we can reuse it".
A small pot of dish water was clutched in my hand, as murky as the amazon,
"Put it in here instead, we don't have much left."
She was right, we didn't. It was cold outside, a late November evening in Bishop, California and we had more than everything we needed for another amazing day of bouldering, everything except water. If we were careful, we could scrape by and still be very comfortable. If we wasted it, we'd have to drive all the way back into town, thus wasting gas as well. Or, we could just be dehydrated and miserable.
I poured the dirty dish water back into another pot, and we reused it to wash our dishes five more times before we ran out of food two days later.
Van life has forced us to live with less and that has given us a greater amount of gratitude. I'm grateful for that. Below are some tips and perks of living on wheels…
- You use less energy to heat the inside of a van than you do a whole house.
- You don't have to pay rent, or a mortgage.
- You only shower when you absolutely need to, thus saving more money, energy and resources. Often we showered at community centers, putting an average of six dollars a week back into the local economy.
- One mouthful of water is all you really need to brush your teeth on the road. A sip to rinse, then drink. Brush. And another sip to rinse your brush.
- Washing your face means using a wash cloth – less wasted water and a good scrubbing behind the ears.
- When we strained our pasta, we'd save the water for tea.
- When we steamed vegetables, Lydia would always drink the water afterwards, capturing more nutrients and hydrating without waste.
I remember my father always yelling at me as a kid to turn the taps off while I washed the dishes. I think he did it to save on hot water, not water itself. But his lesson was not wasted on me. I still hear his voice and I cringe when I catch myself letting the tap flow right down the drain.
Sonnie Trotter is a Patagonia climbing ambassador and photographer from Squamish, British Columbia. His lists of accomplishments encompass all styles of climbing, from deep water soloing to big walls. You can keep up with his travels at sonnietrotter.com/blog.