The economy and ecology of living in a lorry, Part 2

Yes the blog you have been waiting for!  Mr Alexander’s Waste Disposal blog! 

It comes down to this.  What comes in and what goes out.  That’s all there is. And you are almost forced to think about it more carefully if you live in a small mobile space.

Partly because of weight and space, but mostly to do with a closer awareness of personal need.  If you look online for Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs ( you will find a fascinating breakdown of the basic human needs, and living in the lorry throws these into very sharp focus.  This blog is about the lowest level of the triangle – the physiological - food water shelter and warmth. We’re talking the waste from these four.

Waste from food.  I have managed to reduce the kitchen waste down to one carrier bag every two days.  Most of this is soft plastic but there is always the carcass of the dog’s chicken. I really ought to convert it to stock but to be honest I’m virtually veggie so it just is chucked.  I do use the jus minus the fat to put in the boiling water so it flavours the dog’s rice.  They eat every bit! I give small bits of food to the birds. I have really almost eliminated any other food waste and I choose packaged items in Aldi with care so there is little goes to landfill. I separate cardboard, hard plastic and glass and recycle those locally.  The single bidiurnal (posh word for every other day) carrier bag is taken to a service station, Aldi carpark and sometimes a friend’s dustbin.  I try not to let it mount up as it is obviously a mouse magnet if left, for example, in my small trailer.  And I do spread it about in different places.  I feel almost ok about this as I pay taxes, National Insurance and over the odds for LPG but I also feel I do need to give something back to the community so I can justify the fact that I don’t pay any Community Charge.  And I do think about it.

Waste from water.  I empty the toilet cassette about twice a week in the toilet at the yard and use biodegradable toilet fluid in it.  There’s loads on the internet about portable toilets if you want to know more.  I find the process of carrying the cassette and emptying it a leveling experience.  There is something purifying about it too.  Anyway enough of that. The waste from washing, dishes, body and clothes has been called grey water and I usually just let this run into the ground.  I pipe it several metres away from the lorry so it doesn’t cause any smells while it is dissipating.  Rain then washes it all clean. And there’s certainly been enough of that lately. The recent floods have made us all aware of how fragile our waste water system is in this country.  I think letting it drain into the ground is much better than sending down the sewers.  I am careful not to let too much food waste go down the kitchen sink because of smells.  If I was next to the garden I would channel it into there.

Waste from warmth.  The ashes from the fire I spread out on ‘waste’ ground at the side of the yard.  I’m not totally happy with this but maybe I can use it on the garden eventually.  Perhaps I can find a way to grind it up.  The gas water heaters and space heaters vent the carbon monoxide into the air. The smoke from the wood burner too. Not good but I could offset that with planting in the garden. The ‘waste’ warmth from the woodburner also heats a kettle and dries my clothes, so from time to time the lorry is more like some strange Chinese laundry than a living space!

There’s no real waste from my shelter, but the lorry engine is obviously bad for the environment. I spent a fortune last year on special particulate filters for the exhaust, good enough to avoid the London Emissions Zone Charge, so if it’s good enough for Boris, it’s good enough for me.  I try to keep any engine oil or other engine fluid leaks down to a minimum, but it is an elderly lorry.  I’m trying to do more local events, but at the end of the day I do have to travel.  I’m a Travelling Show, so it goes with the job.  I would like to use more solar power and I’m planning some investment along those lines as soon as I can afford it.

Finally I have spoken previously about not owning too much and the weight issue in any mobile home is crucial.  Once every 12 months I go through the larger items onboard and if I have not used them in a year they’re out.  The barbecue nearly went this year but I did use it once on the Isle of Wight so it’s had a reprieve.

The things that are hard are the sentimental ones, the objects that remind me of people or occasions.  Art is hard to leave behind too as it is uplifting for the soul. 

Checkout the Hierarchy of Needs – it’s all there and it’s fascinating. I'll work up the Triangle in a later blog.

And so that’s it Mr Alexander’s Waste blog.  I hope you didn’t find it a waste of time as well!

All the best from a road near you,

Mr Alexander

Mr Alexander