Conscious by Chloé

Chloé Lepeltier - Conscious By Chloé

Conscious by Chloé is a lifestyle blog focused on Zero Waste, Sustainable Living and Ethical Fashion written by Chloé Lepeltier.

Our Car-Camping Checklist

Car Camping with Charlie the Land Cruiser Overlander for Conscious by Chloé

Tonight, Octave and I are headed out for what will probably be our last road trip of the summer together. After a one-week trip across the State of Washington, we're headed to Eastern Oregon until the end of the week (I am FINALLY going to see the Painted Hills!).

For the past year and a half, we've been hitting the roads of most of the 13 Western States with Charlie, a 1989 Toyota Land Cruiser Octave refurbished when we first moved to Oregon.

After many car-camping adventures, I think I pretty much nailed the whole packing thing and can confidently share our checklist with you.

Some of the products mentioned are really Charlie-specific (tent, shower), but for the most part, this is a simple packing-list for a road trip, big or small (I'm actually planning a car-camping trip to the coast with my little car in 2-weeks).

I hope you'll find this packing-list useful and that it will inspire you to hit the road - no matter the size of your car (remember our trip to Iceland?).

Car Camping with Charlie the Land Cruiser Overlander for Conscious by Chloé

Bedroom

Lately, I've been bringing the pillows and duvet we have at home instead of our camping gear.

Car Camping with Charlie the Land Cruiser Overlander for Conscious by Chloé

Kitchen

We go grocery shopping the day before our trip and store everything we shop in bulk in... Ziploc bags. While this seems wasteful, it is actually the best solution for us so far. While we'd love to bring Mason Jars on trips, the roads and paths we use with the Land Cruiser can be VERY bumpy. Ziploc bags are reusable, lightweight, sealable (we've all seen the videos or bears breaking into cars).

  • Dish soap in a GoToob + Dish sponge + Dish towel
  • Colander

Filter your washing up water with the colander and throw whatever remains in it in a cathole (more on that in the bathroom section).

  • Garbage bag

Even though we aim to produce no waste, we always carry a trash bag with us, at least to pick up the trash left by previous campers.

When we feel lazy or when we're in a rush, we'll stop by a coffee shop in town in the morning and get a caffeinated drink to go.

Car Camping with Charlie the Land Cruiser Overlander for Conscious by Chloé

Bathroom

  • Shower (or this portable shower)
  • Flip-Flops (to shower in the dirt)
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste (DIY: coconut oil, baking soda and peppermint essential oil mixed together)
  • Soap
  • Solid Shampoo
  • Dry Shampoo (DIY: arrowroot and cocoa powder)
  • Microfiber towel (I personally love my microfiber robe)
  • Washcloth (for the times when it's way too cold to take a shower but you still want to feel clean)
  • Toilet paper
  • Shovel (check out this article to learn how to dig a cathole)

I also recently started using a GoToob filled with water as my travel bidet!

Car Camping with Charlie the Land Cruiser Overlander for Conscious by Chloé

Safety

Chose the right product according to the region you visit. Are you in bear country? In a humid area? Etc.

Power

Car Camping with Charlie the Land Cruiser Overlander for Conscious by Chloé

Extras

You can make your campsite as comfy and pretty as you want it to be. It just depends on how much space you have in your vehicle.

Car Camping with Charlie the Land Cruiser Overlander for Conscious by Chloé

  • Paper Maps (always useful, you do not want to rely on electronics only)
  • Satellite Communicator (only if you travel to remote areas)
  • Washington Discover Pass
    For access to Washington state parks & other state recreation lands in Washington.
  • America the Beautiful
    For access to all National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands in the USA.
  • Northwest Forest Pass (day use)
    For access to all Forest Service operated recreation sites in Washington and Oregon where a day use fee is required (unless you already have the America the Beautiful pass).
  • Oregon State Park Permit (day-use)
    If you're camping at a state park, you don't need a day-use parking permit. Just display your current state park camping receipt on your dashboard.

I have to admit that it takes a while to process all this information. So don't forget to check a map as you plan your trip, to know which areas you'll be covering, and don't hesitate to check out the state website or stop by the first ranger station on your itinerary. We've always had the best experience there and met the most knowledgeable people about the regions we visited!

Car Camping with Charlie the Land Cruiser Overlander for Conscious by Chloé

In conclusion

Getting all this equipment is not cheap. I'm aware of it, believe me! As Octave uses this rig for his filming business, it made sense for him to outfit it with the best gear. And this is pretty much the only way we travel now (except when we go visit our families in Europe), so it's an investment made for many, many trips to come.

After this initial investment, all our holidays cost us is food & gas. (and the occasional treat).

Spending time in nature is the best way to disconnect, recharge your batteries, get away from the daily hustle. And it's so much fun to "play house" in a different way, where your only preoccupation is to be safe and warm.

Camping on public land is free, you guys! Get a good map and hit the road.

So load up your car (or beg a motorized friend to go on an adventure with you) and hit the road, you won't regret it.

Be safe, protect your land, and report back! I want to know all about your camping adventures!


Pictures by Octave Zangs for Conscious by Chloé.

Plastic Free July

Shibori furoshiki by Conscious by Chloé

It's been a year and a half since I've jumped on the zero-waste bandwagon. I've been applying its principles even more seriously since I've moved to Portland exactly a year ago. But lately, I've been feeling like I've hit a plateau.

At the beginning of this year, I read a book that, once again, completely changed the way I approach the food I eat, the clothes I wear, and the objects I welcome into my home. It got me wanting to dive deeper into my habits as a consumer, especially for material belongings. This book is Plastic Free, by Beth Terry.

I thought I was doing pretty well, having reduced the number of times I have to take the trash out each year and having decluttered the house during our last move. But Beth's manifesto opened my eyes even more on the consequences of plastic on our health and on the environment.

I first thought that adding yet another rule to my consumer habits would lead to disenchantment. And I have to admit that, looking at all the plastic that surrounds us at home, I panicked a little. But I decided to take things slow and opted for a step-by-step process.

First, I realized that I could use it as a guide to help me solve the dilemmas I face whenever I need to make a purchase. Adding plastic in the list of noes made decisions simpler.

For example, we decided to get sporks for camping and were presented with 3 options: BPA-free plastic, bamboo or titanium. By eliminating plastic from the equation and choosing titanium for its durability over bamboo (which could be a great option, since it's biodegradable), the decision was made for us. Simpler, greener, happier.

Of course, there are different ways of looking at this. What is the carbon footprint of the production of each one of these 3 items? I don't know. In the end, the best solution in these cases is always to borrow or buy second hand in the first place.

For those of you who are curious to see why and how we could and should ditch plastic, this amazing plastics mindmap sums up part of what Beth explains in her book and makes for a great inspiration to reduce our plastic consumption.

Plastic Free July Plastics Mindmap for Conscious by Chloé

Observations

  • Plastic lasts forever
    Plastic cannot be recycled, it can only be down cycled, which means it will eventually end up in the landfill at best, or in our waterways.

  • Plastic kills animals
    Whoever has participated in a beach clean up will have seen how much plastic pollutes the ocean. Now you can imagine what percentage of it will make its way into the organism of innocent or confused sea creatures.

  • Plastic gets in the food chain and comes back to us
    If fish eat plastic and we eat fish, do we eat plastic? Also, BPA and phthalates are widely used in plastic bottles and food packaging, they can contaminate what they hold and interfere with human hormonal function.

Actions

I'm pretty happy with what we've been achieving at home since I finished reading Plastic Free. But, but I thought I would get a great boost by signing up for Plastic Free July and challenge myself to avoid all single-use plastic including the top 4 (straws, plastic bottles, plastic bags & coffee cup lids) for all of July.

Here are some aspects I'm going to focus on, based on our actual situation:

  • Ask for paper-only packaging
    When I need of something that is not available locally or second hand, I usually order it online and tend to forget to look and ask for eco-packaging.

  • Make our own tortillas
    Octave and I both work from home and cook all three meals every day. Tortillas entered our pantry since we moved to the US and are a great solution when we run out of inspiration. But the only ones we can find are wrapped in plastic. Octave is usually in charge of cooking and his first attempt was pretty successful. So we should just make a habit of it and prepare a big bunch of tortillas and freeze them so we always have a couple on hand when we're feeling lazy.

  • Buy cheese at the counter
    I recently found a great place in Portland which sells a lot of good fresh products at the counter and even has feta and mozzarella. It is located close to my CSA pickup so it saves me time and gas.

  • Start collecting produce stickers for Stickerman
    Instead of automatically putting produce stickers in the trashcan, I'm gonna attach a piece of paper at the back of a cupboard and stick them on it every time I'll buy fruit. I'll use it as a reminder to sign up for the fruit CSA next year instead of the veggie one (now that we have planted the prettiest veggie garden at home) and will send the sticker sheep to Barry Snyder so he can make more educational art.

  • Be more aware of the composition of the fabrics my clothes are made of.
    I'm planning on doing a lot of reading about fabric origin, composition, production and will simply continue de buy second hand and focus on natural fibers. I'll keep you updated if you will.

That's it for this month's challenge. If you need more inspiration, Beth also compiled a great list of 100 steps to a plastic free life on her website.

If you're interested in what I will be up to during this Plasic Free July, know that I'll be documenting my daily victories and failures on Snapchat. Just add me as your friend, my username is: chloelepeltier.


Has anyone signed up for the challenge yet? If so, let me know, we'll be challenge buddies! No pressure, it can be as simple as just deciding to order drinks without straws during a couple days this month. Come on, it will be fun. But watch out, once you start, you'll see plastic everywhere.

Hairpin Leg Bench DIY

Hairpin Leg Bench DIY by Conscious by Chloé

Last week-end was meant to take place a whole different way.

We had a whole road trip planned to the Northwest Overland Rally. But on the way there, Charlie (Octave's Land Cruiser) got a mechanical problem. So we drove back home to fix it.

I guess I must have had a premonition because I hadn't deleted all the events taking place in Portland on that week-end from my calendar. So I looked at the bright side and made the most of these 2 days in the city.

As some of you might have seen on Snapchat, I woke up early on Saturday morning for an outdoor yoga session followed by a (free) açai bowl for the one year anniversary of Carioca Bowls.

Later, I walked to the Woodlawn Farmers Market, which had reopened while I was in Europe, to get a little mint starter for my garden and some blueberries to snack on during the day.

After that, I rushed to one of my favorite shops in Portland, Johan, for its moving sale and splurged on ceramics. I also scored the vintage silk shirt I'm wearing on the picture and an amazing bodycon dress, made in the USA!

Ceramic cup found at Johan by Conscious by Chloé

Then I checked my phone and realized I had forgotten about the book launch of Becoming Minimalist's Joshua Becker. I was happy to see some friendly faces from the Portland Minimalists Group and get to meet Minimalist Baker Dana Shultz who was here on stage with Joshua.

Later in the day, I dragged Octave to Salvage Works to get some wood for a project I had in mind, and the main subject of today's article: a hairpin leg bench.

Hairpin Leg Bench DIY by Conscious by Chloé

So here's our little tutorial:


HAIRPIN LEG BENCH DIY

A hairpin leg bench is a pretty easy and inexpensive project that will immediately add style to any room in your home.

Active time: 1 hr
Total time: 2 hrs

Supplies

Tools

  • Hand file
  • Orbital sander + sandpaper
  • Drill
  • Screws

Instructions

  1. Carve the edges.
    We used the hand file and finished with 60 grit sandpaper.
  2. Sand the wood.
    We used the orbital sander starting with 60, then 160 and finally 220 grit.
  3. Seal the wood.
    We used a polycrylic spray we already had from a previous outdoor sign project. We sprayed 1 coat and sanded after.
  4. Attach the legs.
    We more or less eyeballed the leg placement, but you can definitely measure it properly, and even clamp the legs and flip the bench over to see how it will look.

Notes You can try different ways to seal the wood. We used what we had on hand, but wood sealer and Danish oil may be better options.


Hairpin Leg Bench DIY by Conscious by Chloé

I love the idea of making something new out of something old. Of course, the project is not 100% made our of reused material, but I'm glad we decided to go to a local shop rather than the usual hardware store. This quick DIY, which happen on the very same week-end Rachel made hers definitely gave me more DIY envy.


What about you? What was your week-end like? Lazy? Productive? This one was definitely on the active side but I promise it's not always as busy or inspired. But my Pinterest inspiration boards are here, in case my hands are itching.