Couple sell their possessions to live a plastic-free life on the road in a Volkswagen van 

This is the couple who packed up their possessions to live in a van – and are now helping others follow a sustainable way of life.

Dustin Grevemberg from Louisiana and his wife Noami from Trinidad sold most of their items three years ago to buy a 1985 Volkswagen Vanagon to live and travel in.

Now they have travelled extensively through the US to places such as Colorado, Montana, Oregon and California, as well as Mexico, all the while living a plastic-free life and trying to create zero waste.

Dustin Grevemberg from Louisiana and his wife Noami from Trinidad, who packed up their possessions to live in a van – a 1985 Volkswagen Vanagon

The couple try to live a plastic-free way of life and try to create zero waste as they travel

The couple try to live a plastic-free way of life and try to create zero waste as they travel 

The couple run Leave No Trace workshops, which teach others about taking care of the environment and leaving zero waste

The couple run Leave No Trace workshops, which teach others about taking care of the environment and leaving zero waste 

Noami sits on the roof of the 1985 Volkswagen Vanagon. Their adventures began in April 2016

Noami sits on the roof of the 1985 Volkswagen Vanagon. Their adventures began in April 2016

The couple, who are both 36, explained: 'Living this way on the road has been trial and error, but these choices have significantly reduced our footprint and created space in our van for the important things'

The couple have travelled extensively through the US to places such as Colorado, Montana, Oregon and California

The couple, who are both 36, explained: ‘Living this way on the road has been trial and error, but these choices have significantly reduced our footprint and created space in our van for the important things’

The couple, who are both 36, explained: ‘Living this way on the road has been trial and error, but these choices have significantly reduced our footprint and created space in our van for the important things.

‘We are more intentional with our consumption and the products we bring into our van. Overall, we are healthier because we opt for less processed and more whole foods. It’s been easier on our wallet as well.

‘We shop in the bulk sections for our dry goods and at farmers’ markets or roadside stands for our produce – sometimes we go straight to the farms. It’s been a wonderful journey to learn so much about the food we eat and the people growing it. It’s been an adventure and I only wish we had done it sooner.

‘In our van we’ve created the “Irie to Aurora Waste Management System”. It consists of a canvas military sack we found at an army surplus store, inside we added a heavy duty dry bag to collect waste we send to the landfill, then we have a sack for our recycling and a re-purposed basmati rice bag (made of burlap) that a friend gave us for collecting food scraps for composting.

When buying fresh produce, the couple like to purchase it from farmers' markets or roadside stands. Sometimes they just go straight to farms

When buying fresh produce, the couple like to purchase it from farmers’ markets or roadside stands. Sometimes they just go straight to farms

The couple tries to compost some of their waste but admits it can be hard to find composting facilities when living life on the road

The couple tries to compost some of their waste but admits it can be hard to find composting facilities when living life on the road

‘It’s nothing fancy, but it works for us and we feel good about it. Although finding composting facilities on the road requires a lot of intention but we’re happy to do it. It feels good knowing we’re not sending food scraps to the landfill.

‘Another very important mission of ours is practicing Leave No Trace (LNT). The outdoors is our home, and practicing LNT is crucial for leaving wild spaces wild for generations to come.

‘We live in a time where outdoor recreation is exploding and it’s a great thing, but it can also lead to problems if we don’t practice and promote environmental stewardship in the outdoors.

‘On too many occasions, we’ve seen the human impacts in places we love. The majority of these impacts occurred due to lack of knowledge about LNT.

The couple said: 'We believe that living more sustainably doesn't mean living without luxuries, but rather being aware of your resource consumption and reducing unnecessary waste'

The couple said: ‘We believe that living more sustainably doesn’t mean living without luxuries, but rather being aware of your resource consumption and reducing unnecessary waste’ 

The couple use a re-purposed basmati rice bag (made of burlap) that a friend gave them for collecting food scraps for composting

The couple use a re-purposed basmati rice bag (made of burlap) that a friend gave them for collecting food scraps for composting

For dry goods, the pair buy in bulk. They said: 'We've learned how resourceful and adaptable we are. We've learned so many new skills'

For dry goods, the pair buy in bulk. They said: ‘We’ve learned how resourceful and adaptable we are. We’ve learned so many new skills’ 

‘Which is why this year we have committed ourselves to environmental advocacy of the outdoors. It’s just another aspect of how we live more sustainably.’

The couple left their van, called Irie, behind for six months to road-trip for a month in a Australia in a van they bought there. They then backpacked through south-east Asia.

They plan to continue travelling and exploring America but will also be hosting a series of sustainability and Leave No Trace workshops across the country and at the first van life gathering in New Orleans, which is where their journey started.

The couple added: ‘Living more sustainably can seem overwhelming when you look at all the issues at hand.

The couple will be attending the first van life gathering in New Orleans, which is where their journey started

The couple will be attending the first van life gathering in New Orleans, which is where their journey started

The couple take a pit stop to work on their laptops. They chart their journey of life on the road on their Instagram account @irietoaurora

The couple take a pit stop to work on their laptops. They chart their journey of life on the road on their Instagram account @irietoaurora

The couple said: 'Living this way has opened our minds and helped us to realise there's no one way to live. Truth is, you can't imagine how different life is in another place until you see it for yourself'

The couple said: ‘Living this way has opened our minds and helped us to realise there’s no one way to live. Truth is, you can’t imagine how different life is in another place until you see it for yourself’ 

‘Which is why we encourage individuals to pick one or two things that are doable for them and practice them daily. Whether it’s foregoing single-use water bottles, or learning how to properly recycle and compost, or advocating for public lands.

‘The most important thing is to do your best. We believe that living more sustainably doesn’t mean living without luxuries, but rather being aware of your resource consumption and reducing unnecessary waste.

‘We love the challenge that comes with travel. It keeps us present and on our toes. Everyday there’s a new experience and challenge to be had. It pushes us outside of our comfort zones and we’ve learned how resourceful and adaptable we are. We’ve learned so many new skills.

The van has been adapted - it has a solar panel on the roof for power and a rack on the front to carry bikes

The van has been adapted – it has a solar panel on the roof for power and a rack on the front to carry bikes 

The couple said: 'We encourage individuals to pick one or two things that are doable for them and practice them daily. Whether it's foregoing single use water bottles, or learning how to properly recycle and compost, or advocating for public lands'

The couple said: ‘We encourage individuals to pick one or two things that are doable for them and practice them daily. Whether it’s foregoing single use water bottles, or learning how to properly recycle and compost, or advocating for public lands’ 

‘Living this way has opened our minds and helped us to realise there’s no one way to live. Truth is, you can’t imagine how different life is in another place until you see it for yourself. 

‘Allowing ourselves to be exposed to new places, people and cultures has helped us develop a wider world view. That’s the greatest reward.

‘And having our home with us at all times gives us the ability to go wherever we want and stay as long as we want. That’s the fun part.’ 


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