CAMPING PLASTIC FREE WITH BRI WOOLNOUGH
I think one of the most common things I hear after someone asks what I’ve been up to lately is “damn, you’re always on an adventure” And well, they’re not wrong, life is just one big adventure at the moment, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Back in the beginning of summer 2020 I picked up this old 1986 Toyota Landcruiser ‘Sunny’, sight unseen and having never driven manual before, this was an exciting challenge from the get-go; a year and a bit later this hunk of metal on four wheels has completely changed my life and has quickly become my home away from home. Last year I embarked on my first road trip around the country for 6 weeks, from Cape Reinga to Bluff and everything in between. I quickly learnt how to adapt to life on the road, though it takes a little while to settle into things.
If there’s one piece of advice that anyone heading out on a road trip should take on board is to slow down and go with the flow. It’s very easy to over plan and have high expectations for an adventure, but often the best moments are the spontaneous ones, the unplanned ones where you follow your heart, the sun, snow or surf. Things won’t always be perfect, especially with old trucks, but you’ll always get through it, and perhaps with even more of a story to tell. Trust in the process, keep an open mind and you’ll be in for one hell of a ride.
The truck coming into my life and the road trip last year inspired a new way of living and was the kick starter for my sustainable journey; though I own a diesel truck (kinda contradicting), where I can I try to make conscious decisions. I’ve always had a passion for adventures but would always be blown away by how much admin being on the road can be and how much rubbish you end up accumulating over time. When I was brainstorming ideas and in the process of building the setup in the back of Sunny, my top priority was being able to have a plastic-free pantry and have the truck setup so that I was ready to hit the road at any time.
Feldon Fact #1: Food Storage
Jars, lots of jars. A few bigger jars for rice, pasta and oats and smaller ones for herbs and spices, I have 10 spices with me that are great for curries & pasta. (glass jars in a 4WD is a bit of a risky move but crazy enough I’ve only lost a small handful to off-road tracks). I also added a fridge and a small compost bin for any food scraps, I keep all my food scraps with me until I get home or I use the ShareWaste app where you can find people around the country who will happily take your compost!
For almost a year now I have tried to live a waste free life and I avoid buying anything in plastic where possible, though car parts and photography equipment can make this difficult; all the plastic that I have come across, I’ve kept with me to see how much waste I’ve got once it’s been a whole year. I’ve had to make several sacrifices along this journey, and it hasn’t been easy, but it’s been worth it.
Feldon Fact #2: Buy in bulk
When you’re living on the road, shopping for food in bulk is the best way to cut down on plastic, be prepared with enough of the essentials to last long enough between finding bulk food stores, Bin Inn stores are nation wide and filled to the brim with pantry essentials, oils and toiletries like body wash, shampoo & conditioner refills which usually are a lot cheaper than buying from the supermarket. Shopping locally from farmers and markets when passing through towns is also a great way to stock up on veggies not packaged in plastic. It's also a great opportunity to meet some people who know the area better than anyone and they may just tell you a few secret camping spots.
Feldon Fact #3: Cooking from scratch
Having non-perishable cans and fresh fruit and veggies that can be used for multiple recipes is a must. Making meals from scratch rather than packets is the biggest way to reduce your plastic waste while on the road. I always have cans of chickpeas, beans, coconut milk and diced tomatoes with me, pesto is great too! Being vegetarian on the road can a challenge because I can't buy meat substitutes like tofu as it's all packaged in plastic but you can learn to live without! My go-to burger at the moment... loose ciabatta buns from the bakery section of the supermarket, sliced kumara boiled than pan fried with garlic, salt & red onion. chuck that in the bun with some bbq sauce, aioli and lettuce! super simple but delicious after a long day on the road.
Being able to explore this beautiful country of ours is so much more rewarding without the guilt of the waste that’s involved. This truck has taken me to places I could never have dreamed of seeing and has taught and challenged me in so many ways. Some days you wonder why you got into it, especially when something else breaks and your bank account is looking a bit sad, but any adventure is a quick reminder that it’s all worth it; when you’ve set up camp with a bunch of legends who share the same love for it all as you do, nothing beats those moments.
It's funny, years ago if you’d have asked me where I saw myself in 5 years, I’d never have guessed that I’d own a 4WD, or be travelling around New Zealand living out of a truck and roof top tent, but here I am, broke but stoked and living the dream.
Photos & Tips by the legend herself: Bri Woolnough