Carbon Footprints & The Beast

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The Beast – a Volvo N10. Our new home from late 2020

‘Let he who is without carbon footprint cast the first stone’

If you follow my blog, you will know that the environment is high on our agenda. Travelling overland in a caravan or motorhome is already more eco-friendly than most methods of living, travel or holidaying. Mark and I have a very minimal lifestyle, with few possessions, we try to avoid waste and have reduced our use of plastic considerably.

However, as part of our Brexit Busting plan, we have bought a truck to convert for overland travel outside of the E.U.

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“What m.p.g. does she do?”

When people find out that we windsurf, their IMMEDIATE response is, “Have you tried kite surfing?” It is really annoying.

With regards to The Beast, we had better get used to the immediate response;

“What m.p.g. does she do?!”

There is no getting away from it, The Beast is a large and thirsty truck. Her fuel economy is horrible. The spec. states eight m.p.g., although we hope for a little more, since we will not run her to her full, laden capacity of twenty-four-and-a-half tonnes.

However, has anyone ever asked the fuel economy of your house and which Council Tax band it falls in?

I thought not.

That doesn’t count, does it?

The Beast will be our only home. We rented out our house to fund our travels. Our travelling lifestyle will involve using The Beast to go from A to B. For running around locally, sightseeing and shopping, we intend to carry a fuel-efficient quad. And bicycles. Most of our other energy needs will be met by an array of solar panels.

Our use of water is minimal. We have a chemical loo and, since we have to collect every drop we use and dispose all grey waste ourselves, we are careful with water. We certainly don’t leave the tap running when cleaning our teeth. When travelling across the Gobi desert, we will have to carry all the water that we need, because fresh water supplies may not be available. (You might need to think about your water use too. Did you know that in the Western world, fresh water supplies are running out!)

Nevertheless, when we posted excited photographs of our new venture on Facebook, we received online abuse. From people who run at least two cars and live in houses much larger than they need, filled with frequently-replaced, energy-guzzling appliances and gadgets. In addition, some of the abusers owned large motor homes, whose fuel consumption is clearly acceptable, while ours, obviously, is not.

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All this is acceptable if you live in a house. But living without it in a large truck, you get abused for your terrible fuel economy!

Before you judge, all I can say is, “Let he who is without carbon footprint cast the first stone.”

And if you ever fly anywhere, you can drop all your stones right now. (See How one flight can produce as much CO2 as citizens of some countries produce in a year.)

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If you do this, you can drop your stones right now!

Mark and I are prepared to stand up and be counted for our environmental impact in opting to live in The Beast. Many Britons choose large, four-wheel-drive vehicles to buzz the kids around the wild badlands of suburbia and nip to Sainsbury’s for their weekly shop. Our intention is to travel in places like Mongolia, a country three-times the size of France, which has only three paved roads.

We need The Beast. We need her reliability, high clearance, four-wheel-drive and bulletproof security, since she will contain everything we own and everything that is precious to us. As we drive through ‘interesting’ countries, we will be painfully aware that someone once broke into Caravan Kismet using nothing more than a screwdriver. (See 25 Ways to Improve Caravan or Motorhome Security At Home & Abroad for how we addressed these vulnerabilities.)

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If you call this home, we apologise…

If you call home a wind-powered hovel in the Welsh hills with a turf roof and a goat for company, we apologise to you. You are probably one of the few in the Western world whose fossil-fuel consumption is lower than ours.

I am sorry if I sound defensive, but I just wanted to get this out there. The abuse we have suffered is symptomatic of a plague which seems to be sweeping across our lands. The desire to condemn others instantly, without introspection – or troubling to avail oneself of the facts.

And yes we have tried kite surfing.

It was too easy.

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We were weighed, measured & found guilty – by some of the worst environmental offenders!

The kite surfing instructor told us that we would be expert kite surfers within six months, which rather put us off. Perhaps we are gluttons for punishment, but windsurfing enthralls us because of the challenge it poses. If you commit to windsurfing as your sport of choice, I can guarantee – a lifetime of frustration and humiliation awaits!

If you want to read more about how we decluttered and minimised our lifestyle, or how we finance our life of freedom, check out ‘How We Did It’

If you follow my blog, there is more coming up on the hoops we had to jump through to get The Beast home, how to renew your lorry licence abroad, how to insure the uninsurable; an unregistered 9.6 litre Belgian truck and yourself for more than a year. Click the ‘Follow’ button or enter your email address in the box at the top right of the page and you will be notified of new posts. No spam guaranteed! 

And since we’re skiing in beautiful Monte Rosa for the season, there might be a little bit about that too! 

24 thoughts on “Carbon Footprints & The Beast

  1. Oh Jackie I am amazed and saddened that people reacted that way, it never occurred to me to think like that. Like you I try to do everything with an eye to environmental responsibility and I know that if I really wanted to totally reduce my impact I would simply stay home, never go anywhere and use no energy I did not generate myself or through renewables. It is because I can go into the world, that I love and appreciate it so much, it is also the reason I keep working on improving my impact in realistic ways. When you first posted on the beast I was excited by and a little envious of the adventure you were planning and now it makes me sad to know that others reacted so negatively, clearly they are not familiar with your blog or they would have known better. I think the adventure you are planning is brilliant and of course you need the beast for such a journey. I am looking forward to reading about the conversion and your travels. When did we go from caring about the environment to becoming ignorant carbon Nazis and I write this as someone who is desperately fighting the climate change battle in a country with a real problem and a genuine need to take steps to stop the current decline. I am surrounded by the the four wheel drive set who apparently need a tank to take the kids to school and do the grocery shopping, you have every right to be angry at the hypocrisy. They are not eco warriors they are eco morons, real concerned citizens would be better informed. You guys rock and I am very much looking forward to reading about your travels in the beast!

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    1. What lovely words, Sharon. Thank you very much. Mark and I are both very moved.
      Like you, we try to work on our impact in realistic ways. It’s all that you can do without becoming a cave dweller. However, I was surprised at how much it is possible to do without changing too much in your life – like cutting down on single use plastic. We barely noticed the difference but have reduced our ANNUAL plastic use by approximately 2,000 plastic bags, 261 plastic bottles and 12 aerosol cans. (I can’t claim the toothpaste tubes until we perfect the texture of our home-made toothpaste! It tasted nice but was solid and a little messy and awkward to use.)
      Everyone needs to take responsibility. Until that happens, nothing will change. I just hope that people wake up soon to the reality. The human race could be forgiven if we walked into the climate crisis unknowingly. What saddens me is that we know full well the impact of what we are doing – yet we carry on doing it anyway. I am not sure that qualifies us as the most intelligent life form on the planet!
      I am looking forward to the adventures with the beast. It has been an adventure already – and we haven’t even set eyes on her yet!
      Watch this space… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jackie the very best of luck with the beast . People are so judgemental these days . Environmental issues are hugely complicated and controversial. People purchase new electric cars and have 3 foreign holidays travelling by air and think they are saving the planet . Your life is very environmentally friendly so carry on with your travels and don’t listen to the haters . So sorry you have received so much abuse over your new plans . Oh and keep the books coming too 😊

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  2. You guys are an inspiration, people should think more and speak less. It sickens me the amount of waste I see here in the UK, even clothes are becoming ‘single use’ nothing is made to last and people don’t have the desire to make do. I guess recycling and doing without is’t good for the economy so if we want change it has to come from the people.
    Enjoy your travels, I am so excited for you. Looking forward to more photos 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your support! I think you have hit the nail on the head there – reduce, re-use and recycle hits the bottom line of global companies. They even go as far as building in obsolescence so that goods need to be replaced. However, as individuals, we need a complete change of attitude to consumption. You are right – clothing should not be single use, but it is viewed as that because it is so cheap.
      However, the benefit is not just for the planet. Mark and I have actually found it very liberating to own less STUFF. I like just having what we need and not having our lives cluttered with a load of stuff that we don’t know what to do with.
      As a fellow watersports person, I am sure you see the waste on the beaches as we do. It saddens me.
      I shall keep you posted about our travels. There will be more photos when Mark collects The Beast at the beginning of March. 🙂
      Very exciting!

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      1. We’ve been watching this YouTube series about a guy in America building a camper for the back of his truck. He’s a bit of an adventure junkie and travels with his dog https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNQ8YGWE5c4 Also this Kiwi bloke with a Unimog seems to be into environmental and health issues when looking at his camper build such as recycling and finding his own solutions to challenges instead of buying pre-made plastic options https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRWNDL3HIiM good for a bit of rainy day inspiration!!

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      2. Awesome – thank you for that. I might watch them now as it is a snowy day! 🙂
        Any info and help is most welcome, since converting a lorry is entirely a new project for us.
        You will meet Wayne, who is doing the conversion for us, in my blogs shortly. He is a whizz with driftwood. It is our intention to use recycled and natural materials in the conversion where possible, although clearly that is not an option for everything.
        Thank you for the links! Much appreciated.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Well when we were young we did not cause half the waste or carbon foot print that people do today did we so that gives you some lea way! Then looking at Prince Harry as an example you have a long way to go to catch him up! Enjoy retirement you deserve to!

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  4. Hi both (and fur babies) Good on you both for living life the way you want to we say. There are so many (not all) self opinionated, hypocritical people out there who are quick to jump on the ‘eco bandwagon’ without giving a thought to their own habits and lifestyle. Since we have been touring in our caravan (Dolly) for the last two years we have become far less wasteful. As you say our water consumption has dropped considerably (no baths, only boil what we need, tap off when brushing teeth) and realising that YES you can wash your dishes effectively in only 3 inches of water and don’t need the big bowl of soapy water or WORSE still …a dishwasher! We use less plastic (though recycling in different regions/countries is dubious) and waste far less food now as we only have a fridge big enough for a few days provisions (who the heck can eat their way through the contents of these ridiculous US style fridges)
    Our pet hate? When we are asked….
    ‘Are you home now?’ YES
    Or….
    ‘When are you coming home?’ WE ARE HOME!
    I just cannot help people to understand that Dolly is our home and we live where’ve we park her.
    PS How many mpg? 😉 kidding! Xx

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      1. In Cotswolds at mo, work experience this weekend (feels weird in our 50’s haha) we’ve seen a few beasts on our travels so can’t wait to see your progress converting it 🙂 are you down south now? Not sure where we’re heading after this but sometime this year hopefully x

        Liked by 1 person

    1. For some reason I can’t reply to your last comment! Verboten. And on my own blog too! 🙂 We’re in Italy at the moment then heading off to Poland and the Baltics while our lovely friend Wayne kits out The Beast. We will be back in the UK in October for Big Blue’s MOT, so if you’re around then, it would be great to meet up. Or you’re welcome to join us anywhere en route!
      Best of luck with your work experience. I am sure you’ll nail it!
      You have reminded me that I should write something about what else we’re up to besides The Beast, although recently, she has loomed large in our lives in every sense of the word!

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  5. Hi Jackie, I am kind of envious about your new project and venture. Sorry to hear about all the negative comments. There are always going to people like that. Just don’t engage if you decide to keep comments on. We are like you and try our best to do as much as we can to recycle, conserve energy and water. You don’t need to justify yourself , as regular readers are aware of what you do. I am really looking forward to your adventures.

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  6. Thank you so much for your kind words, Arlene. Thankfully, I have not received any negative comments on my blog – the blogosphere has always been very positive and supportive. (That was one of my main concerns when I started blogging!) Certain parts of Facebook, on the other hand, are a nest of vipers and trolls!
    It is very encouraging to hear from so many people who are concerned about the environment and are taking action.
    Sorry to make you envious 🙂 Although part of my purpose in writing this blog is to share that it is possible to live a different life. Mark and I are just ordinary Joes who got to where we are by planning, saving and a bit of idiocy. Like accidentally buying a caravan and then purchasing a twenty-four-and-a-half tonne truck from The Netherlands on a whim…!

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  7. I’ll bet you are up to your ears planning the Gobi desert crossing. Go for it and enjoy. There are two sides to fuel economy and the other is how far you drive in a day, which sometimes may only be a few kms. Compared to flying, well…
    I can’t wait for the next post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you – I am pleased that you enjoyed it. I have just checked out and followed your blog. You might be interested in a few of my other posts about Zero Waste Caravanning and how we have reduced plastic.

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