While travelling the world you get to meet the most interesting people. Sitting on a hilltop in Nepal I met a young Dutch woman named Karlijn who had some pretty creative ideas. She wanted to do something that would help the world, give struggling artists a hand and make people happy and healthy. She wanted it to be as green as possible as well as make some money. Needless to say, I thought she might be a tad overambitious, but we exchanged contact info and she promised she'd be in touch if she ever found a way to make her plans a reality.
Imagine my surprise when I got an e-mail from her saying that she had done it and that her scheme was shaping up to be quite successful. The plan was to spread awareness of the green, do-it-yourself-with-recycled-products-movement. She had bought a classic Adria caravan that was rusting away in someone's backyard... for £65. With the help of some handy friends she had transformed this rusting husk of a trailer into a mobile mini-art fair and juicebar.
The pictures she sent were incredible. After cutting a big hole in the side, she had changed the furniture on the inside around. The leftovers from cutting the hole were used to build a small bar and she had wallpapered the insides of the caravan to give the whole thing a 60s retro look. An added lounge area provided customers with a place to relax in case of bad weather. As caravans tend to be pretty environmentally friendly already (don't believe me? Look at these fun caravan stats) she did not have to add much to make it green.
De Caravan; Credit: © Robbert Sas
She then contacted local artists and craftsmen and offered them a free platform to display and sell their work. The catch; everything displayed would have to be made with second-hand or recycled products. The more innovative and creative, the better. She would then take the caravan to art-fairs and festivals and lure people in by selling home-made food and drinks.
Focussing mainly on making delicious smoothies and pies, she grows many of the ingredients for the food in her own garden. When that isn't possible she buys from local biological farmers to ensure the greenest, healthiest food she can get.
Needless to say "De Caravan" has become a hit pretty quickly, as it struck a chord with environmentalists worldwide. She is spreading the word and showing people that do-it-yourself with recycled or second hand products can result in the most beautiful things. The retro feel of the caravan pulls in festival goers and the art and products featured give people ideas to try for themselves.
Karlijn in "De Caravan"; Credit: © Robbert Sas
"The response has been overwhelming," says the young entrepreneur."We never thought it would take off as fast as it has. Part of the project is to give people ideas and encourage recycling." A great example of this is the plates she uses to serve pie. Instead of using plastic single-use plates she moulds them herself by heating up old vinyl records. It's easy to do, makes use of regularly available products, and encourages people to reuse their plates instead of throwing them away. "People buy up to four plates of pie just to get a matching set" Karlijn says, "I explain how easy they are to make when I notice they are interested."
Karlijn is currently touring Europe with the caravan and has recently branched out in also selling second hand clothing. The profits are going to be used to buy a few solar panels to make the caravan even more environmentally friendly.
Article written by Robbert Sas