A systems snapshot of the challenge of living “green” in my trailer, Kermit.
Yep. I named my trailer Kermit.
(Don’t judge me, bro.)
Why? Because it’s green. Literally. Painted green. And because it hasn’t been easy living in it full-time either.
When I started my minimalist nomadic life, downsizing into a 77 square-foot travel trailer, I wanted to be 100% “off-grid” and to live with as little negative environmental impact as possible. (Actually, due to the rising cost of everything I was somewhat forced into it.) What I have observed so far is that this goal is quite difficult to realize, even in the super-small footprint of my tiny home on wheels.
Many in the tiny-home and nomadic community have also made living “green” a goal, along with with the extreme minimalism required of that lifestyle. It’s all the rage these days, but a green lifestyle is made of much more than downsizing one’s living situation, reducing the clutter, eschewing consumerism, and using renewable energy.
The reality is that it costs a great deal of time, money and energy to downsize, reduce and effectively use renewables (especially since one cannot rely 100% on renewables in a nomadic lifestyle.) Plus, there is a huge consumer market for “green” products growing alongside the popularity of #vanlife and contemporary nomadism.
During this huge change in my life to live this way, I have been observing closely what is evolving, and have chosen to put my designer’s mind and creativity into making this thing work. To that end, I am employing a systems-thinking approach to what I have observed. Hopefully it will shed some insight, and at the least systems are fun to think about.
Yes, it’s geeky, I know.
So, for your own geeked-out pleasure (I am assuming that you too are into on this kind of thing, or you probably wouldn’t be reading this), the following is my latest exploration of the interactions of the elements of a green-living lifestyle in my little trailer, an a little graphic to show the interactions and elements of green-living in the system called “my life right now.”
As you hopefully can see, one of the main reasons that it isn’t easy to be truly “green” in one’s lifestyle is the large resource costs of storage and disposal. One must drive/travel to both resupply what is non-renewable and to dispose of waste properly. Trips to the truck stop for propane to cook with and trips to the hazardous waste department at the county landfill to get rid of empty propane containers takes a lot of time and resources.
Storage of energy and other resources is also very limited, so replenishment may need to happen sooner and more often.
Because of the need for storage and disposal, travel using fossil fuels is required (Teslas don’t haul trailers yet). Solar energy is used to run my laptop and electronics, and powering the heating system itself which is very efficient. The heat is now provided by a diesel heater, which is safer and much less expensive than propane heaters. But, it does require both a small amount of electricity to run the fan and fuel pump, and the diesel fuel it needs to run, so it’s connected to the solar power station batteries.
This diagram also omits travel for groceries and other items, because what I am mainly looking at here are the basic needs for water, energy and heat.
I hope you get some insight from this as I have, and at least a little more enlightenment as to why “it’s not easy being green.”
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