For the past year, John Byfield and Kate Heber of Bend, Oregon, have been traveling the country in an eco-revamped vintage Airstream Flying Cloud, learning and sharing lessons about sustainability and small-space living.
What inspired your Eco-Discovery Tour?
As the economy deteriorated and our concern for the environment continued to escalate, we were inspired to ask ourselves what we could do to make a difference. We both believed that we were seeing the beginning of what may be the most dramatic changes in our society, our economy and our environment that this, or possibly any, generation has ever seen.
Tell us about your Airstream makeover.
Beginning with what amounts to recycling a vintage Airstream, we tried to incorporate as many green elements and systems as possible in the renovation. Our home’s electrical needs are provided by solar power. It has a composting toilet, wool mattress, cork flooring, bamboo and Kirei board cabinets, zero-VOC paints, LED lighting and as many other recycled or low-impact materials as we could find.
What effect do you hope the tour will have?
We hope that by living conscientiously, we can demonstrate that you really can reduce your impact on the planet. While we have taken it to the extreme by living in 133 square feet, we hope others will appreciate that it’s possible to make a difference without giving up all the comforts of home.
What’s been the biggest challenge?
Buying good food and recycling. We go out of our way to find a good local or farmer’s market for produce and fresh-baked breads whenever possible, but with only a five-day supply of food on hand, we can’t always find one. We do our best to minimize our use of packaged products, but there are still always things that need to be recycled.
What’s the best part of living on the road?
Part of our plan was not to have a plan, so we never know for certain where we will stay or what tomorrow will bring. For some people this is pure terror; for us, it’s pure joy.
What’s the worst part?
Saying goodbye after a visit with family or friends.