Talking Sustainable Van Life With Will + Bear

by Maddie Vlismas

Will + Bear was born on the road during an impromptu trip through remote Tasmania just four short years again. Since then, founders Lauren and Alex have spent the past four years jumping in and out of full-time living with their trusty van Marty.

If you follow us on Instagram, you might have seen our founders Em & Fred giving  Van Life a red hot go at the beginning of the year. Not long after departing on their maiden voyage, their brand new (new to themvan broke down just hours outside of Melbourne. Although our gorgeous founders are focussed on the arrival of their first bub only a few weeks ago, the appeal of a nomadic Van Life is always something that sparks our imagination at Kappi HQ...

We recently had the chance to sit down (virtually of course) with our friends at Will + Bear , to grill them about the ins and outs of living sustainably in a van on the open road. Keep reading to hear all about their tips + tricks!



What was the inciting incident that inspired the decision to hit the road 24/7?

When we decided to commit to living in the van full-time, we'd already been on and off the road living in and out of the van for the last few years. We were settling down and started to set up an office and were hiring staff, and then we took a life changing trip to Africa to visit our tree planting projects. On that trip our mindsets completely changed, and we decided we wanted to do things a little differently. So, we spent the next 12 months setting our business up so it could be run remotely, and so that we could move back into the van full-time and travel Aus.

You guys are obviously very environmentally focused and sustainably minded as a business at Will + Bear, which we’re big fans of. Can you tell us a little about how this translates into your van-life?

The fact that we can live and work anywhere gives us total freedom and being forced to simplify your life into a small van that you share with another person actually helps you detach from things you don't really need. Van life keeps conscious of every decision you make, you're constantly checking in with yourself “do I really need this?” or “how can we simplify it?”. The hard part now is remembering what you really need, it’s easy to fall back into over consuming. I think this is a common battle for our generation. 

How do you manage to shop / eat / cook sustainably in the van?

This one is a tough one, unless you like planning, which I do (Loz). I plan in advance as to where good food will be and sometimes map out travel plans around that.  We’ve been stuck with servo food a few too many times and that is no good for anyone! It’s easy to find good sustainable food with a little effort, it just has to be part of the adventure. 



Do you have any favourite eco/ zero-waste swaps? 

- Farmers Markets / Organic grocers / Roadside stalls over big chain supermarkets 

- Biodegradable Toothbrush 

- Reusable produce bags 

- Reusable drinking – coffee & water

- Butcher meat over packaged meat

Has living so close to nature changed your relationship with the planet?

We find it impossible to not deepen our connection with nature while living on the road. This is one of the main reasons we jumped into the van, our core values and relationship with the planet have remained the same throughout this experience, but our connection has grown stronger. 

This is pretty much our motto for Will & Bear, we exist to inspire a life lived outdoors and a deeper connection to the environment because we believe the more you connect with nature the more you will respect it and hopefully help look after it. 

You’re both obviously running a business from your home on wheels - what’s that like?

There’s no typical day in the van, every day is so different depending on where we are and what work we have to do. Most days we will try to start pretty slowly, taking time to enjoy our surroundings and do exercise before we start work or head off to the next destination. 

We’ve had to learn to map out our journeys and schedule in calls when we know we’ll have access to reception. We keep our team abreast of our travels, so they also know when we’ll be contactable.

It’s very up and down, you really have to learn to roll with the punches and trust that everything will get done eventually, just maybe not between 9-5 anymore . This was something that was super hard for me (Loz) to manage at the start, as a serious planner I struggled with sh*t not getting done to a timeline. It took a few years to learn that there is time for everything in the end, even with the breakdowns.



We’ve heard about your van renovation struggles and totally feel your pain. Were you able to factor any sustainable choices into the re-build of the van? 

We set up the second battery with solar and used restored and upcycled parts and interior fittings where we could. We use solar where we can and we offset our carbon foot prints through tree planting projects*.  

*Head over to our other interview with Will + Bear where they talk all about their work with Trees For The Future

What’s your favourite thing about roaming 24/7?

When we’re on the road we have the most clarity, it’s where our best ideas and inspiration come from. Life on the road brings with it fewer distractions, time to reflect and the company of new and interesting people. Anyone that hasn't tried it yet, we urge you to do so!

Is there any advice, life-lessons or tips you have for your past selves or other aspiring van-lifers?

Spend as much time living/travelling in your van before you make the big move. The first time we moved into our van we didn’t give it much thought and it was so much harder than it is now. 

Now that we’ve designed the van to fit our lifestyle and it flows so much better. But without knowing what didn’t work last time we couldn’t have done it. 

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