My Van Year
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My Van Year

Day 5: Rethinking Relief and Hygiene for Van Living

After reading some books on van dwelling I’m starting to accept and even get interested in other ways of relief and hygiene. There will be a toilet and shower head in the van, but I won’t be using that toilet every day and I won’t be taking showers every day. It’s a fancy toilet and each use is expensive, plus there is scarce water. only a 30-gallon tank which I’d like to last a week or longer.

Relief for van living

The toilet in the van is a dry flush toilet by Laveo. It’s kind of like a spaceship toilet. It holds 15 foil cartridges. You relieve yourself into one, hit a button, then it wraps it up and pushes it down into…somewhere. When the 15 cartridges are used up, you take the black bag out like the trash. It’s a lot of waste but it does the job well.

When I was researching toilets for the van this seemed like the best option. It’s odorless, doesn’t use chemicals, and you don’t have to clean it.

But there is also a more primitive solution that works in a similar way. You get a 5-gallon bucket, put a bag in it, a 5-gallon toilet lid, and relieve yourself. Then you take it out like the trash. It’s single-use though, not a fifteen-use. Not very environmentally friendly. However, it’s much cheaper and I’m sure there are some compostable bags you can buy.

Of course, there are many civilized places to poop for free or almost free. You can use your gym membership, rest stops, and other public restrooms. I don’t want to have to rely on that though. Also, when camping in woods and forests there won’t be anything like that.

The good thing is, you can bury your poop when you’re out there. This is why I bought a foldable shovel. I would have never have thought of this or pooping in a five-gallon bucket before reading vandwelling books but here we are and it seems fine. I’ve heard that some colon issues have arisen in humans because we stopped squatting to shit. People who squat to shit seem to enjoy it based on what I’m reading.

Of course I’m talking about number two here. For peeing, I’m not wasting an expensive cartridge in the dry toilet. I’ll use a black water bottle or something similar and then dump it. The dry flush toilet is only for when I am near public places and cannot squat, and for people I meet who are shy about squatting outside. However, I think it would be more awkward to poop in the van and smell it up. I’ll try to talk them into squatting. Let’s see how it goes.

Hygiene for van living

I have already experimented with not showering for three days. Everything is fine so far. I’ve been using a wash cloth to wipe my armpits and groin on days I don’t shower and have been washing my face as usual. Sometimes I’ll shower my hair with water and not use shampoo.

In these books, I’m learning that the reason we use shampoo is because of shampoo. It’s all advertising. Shampoo removes the natural grease in your hair, then your hair tries to compensate for the natural amount of grease that was lost to shampoo with more grease. You then wash the grease out and the cycle continues.

When I get on the road I’ll experiment with not using shampoo. I’ll use a natural product occasionally, or just vinegar. I think this is what a guy in one of the books said he uses: vinegar and water. I’m not opposed to using a natural product from time to time like Bronner’s. You can use this to wash anything: hair, house, body, clothes, anything. I’ve tried it and it works well.

I can wash my hair in the sink of the van. The faucet in the sink extends so I can use it outside when I want to have a proper wash. Since the faucet/shower head is on the side of the van it will be hard to hang a curtain. So I’ll probably wait until I’m not around anyone. I won’t do this every day. Most likely every two or three days. It will depend on the degree I sweat in the morning from exercise.

The sink faucet extends and functions as a shower head for outside. The dry flush toilet slides out from the opposite cabinet.

I can also use the gym shower if there is one nearby. Planet Fitness is only $30 per month for access to all their gyms nationwide. There will probably be one around more often than not. Let’s see.

Pooping outside (of the van) is fun

I did this a lot when I was younger and playing in the woods. I also did it a few years ago when I was running on the trail and had no other choice than to run off the trail into the woods, squat against a tree, and wipe with some leaves. And today I tried it again. I went for a walk in a nearby park and, off to the side, used my new shovel and squatted.

I’m going to have to work on my squatting stretches. Taking that squat was not easy or comfortable. I was also nervous some kids or land owner would stumble upon me. I’m sure that feeling will dissolve with more practice.

I work remotely and practice pooping in holes for lunch breaks.

Pooping outside is not weird. It’s natural. Anyone who says differently is weird. Actually, most people are so paralyzed by society that they have forgotten what natural is. That includes me. At least that’s what a guy in one of the books says. I think I agree with him. I’ll know for sure when I hit the road.

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Robert Gibb

Robert Gibb

Screenwriting and appreciating life through movie scenes @ scenelift.com