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Best Ways for Vanlifers to Celebrate Earth Day


On April 22nd, join more than a billion people globally in celebrating Earth Day. You can observe the holiday vanlife-style with activities ranging from refreshing picnics to empowering volunteer experiences. Van dwellers are uniquely positioned to celebrate Earth Day because they can live small amongst the great big wonders of nature. Road warriors tend to own fewer belongings, conserve resources like water, and focus on experiences rather than things. Of course, there are still plenty of ways to optimize the sustainability of life on the road, which we’ll get into later. 

Ready to spend an entire day appreciating our beautiful planet? Read on for Rec Van’s best Earth Day celebration suggestions.

Enjoy Nature

The most important thing we can do on Earth Day is renew our connection with the natural world. Time outdoors improves our health by lowering blood pressure and reducing stress. Plus, it’s just plain enjoyable. 

Make a point of spending a large portion of the day outside, whether you go on a hike, bike ride, kayaking trip, or picnic. If you’re amenable to a late night or early morning, you can witness the Lyrid meteor shower between midnight and dawn on the 22nd. 

To bring nature indoors, consider growing a plant in your van. Succulents or herbs are good choices for a pop of green to make you smile while you work or relax in the van. Just be sure that the pot is well secured when you drive.

At night, watch an inspiring documentary or explore Google Earth to marvel at the diverse and breathtaking landscapes around the globe. You can also create a post on social media celebrating all of the wild and wonderful places you’ve been able to visit on your travels.

Attend Events

If you’re near a city or town, chances are you’re near an Earth Day event. Communities across the country–and the world–mark this important day with street fairs, educational talks, activist events, and cleanup projects. Use the official Earth Day website to browse and filter through nearby events. There, you can find family-friendly fun (even filtering by the specific age ranges of your kids) as well as online events. 

Make Sustainable Changes

As we mentioned earlier, vanlife already tends to be more eco-conscious than other lifestyles, but there are always ways to level up. Ready for a challenge? Consider committing to a new lifestyle change, starting on April 22nd. Some ideas include buying bulk food and cleaning supplies, eating less meat, shopping locally, and conserving more water. 

If you’re looking for a one-time change to make on Earth Day, invest in solar panels for your van or purchase some necessary reusable products. The holiday is also a great opportunity to finally repair things you’ve been meaning to fix. Whether you patch a hole in your favorite pair of pants or fix a leaky faucet, you can breathe new life into your belongings and prevent waste. 

Driving is easily the least eco-friendly part of vanlife. Luckily, you can save money and avoid excess emissions with a few tricks. First, check your van’s tire pressure. Properly filled tires optimize fuel efficiency and make your tires last longer. Second, slow down. Your van is likely most fuel-efficient between 40-55 miles per hour, so take the pedal off the metal on the highway to avoid wasting gas. Yes, it will take a little longer to reach your destination, but you’ll enjoy a safer, cheaper, and more eco-friendly ride. 

Take Action

Along with personal lifestyle changes, consider getting involved in larger efforts to protect the environment. Volunteer for a beach or forest cleanup, sign petitions online, or donate to a reputable environmental group. Check out Giving Multiplier to donate to ultra-effective organizations. The best part is that the website adds funds to your donation.

While a one-time action or donation is helpful, long-term work will have the most impact. Local and national environmental groups are always looking for more volunteers. Look for a role that involves your skills and passions, whether that’s teaching kids about the outdoors, making posters for protests, or cataloging plant and animal species. 

Check out Volunteer Match to find volunteering opportunities. Look for groups with multiple chapters across the U.S. to stay connected as you change locations, or find a way to contribute virtually. 

Appreciate Your Food

While vanlifers rarely shop for new things, they do need to stock up on groceries quite often. Everyone has to eat, after all. Because of this, your buying power will have the most impact when it comes to food. Want to see where you stand? Take this three-minute quiz to learn about your “foodprint.”

Jumpstart a local shopping habit by visiting a farmers market or farm this Earth Day. You’ll get to enjoy the beauty of nature’s bounty, feel more connected to the land, and meet like-minded people. After your farmers market or farm adventure, put the seasonal ingredients to use by cooking a delicious meal. You can spend even more time outside by packing a tasty picnic.

Learn Something New

After a full day celebrating the wonders of nature, take some time to educate yourself on topics related to our planet. Watch TED Talks or delve deeper into the seven principles of Leave No Trace. Find out which native land you’re on with this map. The map allows you to use land acknowledgments in posts to show respect for the indigenous people who have been protecting and advocating for the environment for thousands of years. 

The Takeaway 

Having a holiday dedicated to celebrating planet Earth is vital. Rather than coming from a place of fear and stress about environmental issues, we can embrace a mindset of abundance and motivation. Instead of feeling like a chore, sustainability goals start to feel natural and exciting. 

With vanlife, you can enjoy a slower pace, smaller footprint, and greater connection to the outdoors from the comfort of your traveling home. 

Are you considering transitioning to a nomadic way of life? Visit Rec Van for a wide selection of new and used adventure vans. Already a wanderer? Check out “Ways to Reduce Waste on the Road” for more helpful vanlife sustainability tips.