You are currently viewing Renske Cox: Pioneer of Sustainable Living at 4x4electric
Renske Cox

Renske Cox: Pioneer of Sustainable Living at 4x4electric

Renske Cox and Maarten van Pel are the visionary co-founders of 4x4electric, on a mission to inspire and empower individuals to address climate change without compromising their quality of life. They firmly believe that a combination of creativity and conscious choices is the key to achieving this ambitious goal, and they are dedicated to encouraging people to embrace new and sustainable ideas.

At the core of their mission lies the sharing of stories—stories of individuals and projects that have successfully integrated sustainability into their lives and businesses. By highlighting these inspiring initiatives, Renske and Maarten aim to shed light on how sustainability goals have been realized and the valuable lessons that can be gleaned from these experiences.

Recognizing that sustainability is not a one-size-fits-all concept, Renske and Maarten are committed to presenting a diverse range of solutions. They understand that different circumstances and preferences call for tailored approaches to sustainability. As such, their ultimate objective is to empower every individual to discover and adopt sustainable practices that align with their unique circumstances and personal choices.

Pioneering a Solar-Powered Expedition

Renske has always been passionate about exploring the world through travel, as it provided her with invaluable insights into various cultures and climates. During one of her trips to Namibia and Botswana with her partner Maarten four years ago, she witnessed firsthand the impact of a mere 0.5-degree Celsius increase in average temperatures on these countries. This experience deeply affected her, prompting a commitment to incorporate sustainability into their lives to help combat climate change.

Their sustainability journey began at home, where they made significant changes like collecting rainwater and transitioning to a fully electric and solar-powered household. However, their adventurous spirit led them to desire travel, albeit without relying on airplanes. This desire led to a groundbreaking idea: a journey from the Netherlands to South Africa and back using an electric car, powered by solar panels they would take with them, ensuring complete self-sufficiency.

While such a journey had never been attempted before, Renske and Maarten believed it was essential to explore new ways of living in harmony with nature during this critical time of transition. Despite facing numerous challenges and a 14-month preparation period, they persevered in finding partners who shared their vision and were willing to embark on this adventure. Ultimately, their success was a testament to their determination and their ability to work together as a team.

Travel Practices for a Greener Journey

Renske has implemented a range of sustainable practices to make her travels as eco-friendly and self-sufficient as possible. These measures include:

Custom Solar Panels: Solar panels have been custom-installed on the car’s hood, rooftop tent, and rooftop box. These panels generate energy even while driving, storing it in a household battery. This energy powers various aspects of their journey, including cooking, an electric fridge, and charging electronic devices.

Water Sustainability: To reduce reliance on plastic water bottles, a 50-liter water tank has been installed in the car, which they fill using a water pump. Before consumption, the water is filtered, making it safe to drink. This setup allows them to source drinkable water from natural sources like lakes, rivers, or wells.

Mobile Solar Panels: Renske and her partner carry 60 square meters of solar panels in the back of their expedition car. They periodically lay these panels out in a field to charge their vehicle. On an average solar charging day, they can gain a range of over 250 kilometers, equivalent to approximately 40 kWh of energy.

These sustainable practices enable Renske to be entirely self-sufficient during her travels, requiring only periodic stops to purchase food. Her journey serves as a remarkable example of how innovative solutions can reduce environmental impact while exploring the world.

Careful Preparation and Resilient Mindset

In preparation for their ambitious 40,000-kilometer expedition spanning more than 30 different countries, Renske and Maarten left no stone unturned in addressing potential challenges and risks. They undertook thorough planning, considering a wide range of scenarios they might encounter on their journey. Here are some of the steps they took to prepare:

  • Vehicle Modifications: They made essential modifications to their vehicle, including changing the tires to all-terrain versions and replacing the springs with stiffer ones. These upgrades were aimed at enabling their car to navigate rough terrain effectively.
  • Equipment and Tools: They packed a comprehensive set of tools and equipment to handle potential challenges. This included items like sand tracks, an air jack, ropes, a compressor, and a shovel to help them get unstuck if necessary.
  • Weather and Environmental Considerations: They thought ahead about the impact of different weather conditions on their solar charging days. They also considered potential encounters with animals and people along the way.
  • Mental Preparedness: Renske and Maarten recognized that not all challenges could be anticipated, and they embraced a mentality of adaptability. They emphasized staying calm, not rushing, and using their creativity to find solutions with the resources available to them locally.

Their approach demonstrates a remarkable blend of meticulous planning and a resilient mindset. It’s a testament to their ability to face and overcome challenges, even those they had not foreseen during their preparation. Their belief that no problem or challenge is insurmountable has served them well on their journey.

Showcasing Sustainable Innovations Across Borders

Renske and Maarten have embraced their journey through Africa as an opportunity to learn from and engage with sustainable initiatives along their route. They recognize that each country’s unique climate and culture can lead to diverse solutions, serving as inspiration for people worldwide.

One noteworthy example from their travels is their visit to Ghana, where they explored an initiative that employs electric drones for the delivery of medicine to remote areas. These drones offer significant advantages, including speed, cost-effectiveness, and the absence of fuel consumption compared to traditional 4×4 vehicles.

In Namibia, they encountered the development of giant kelp farms at sea, a sustainable endeavor with minimal environmental impact. Kelp grows rapidly and can be utilized in various eco-friendly applications, such as packaging material, food, or fertilizer.

By sharing their experiences and insights from these initiatives with their followers, Renske and Maarten aim to inspire others to embrace sustainable changes. They hope to convey that making a positive impact on the environment can be not only beneficial but also enjoyable and rewarding.

Fostering Global Collaboration

Renske understands that the challenge of the energy transition is a collective one that involves everyone. It cannot be tackled by a single country or a specific group of individuals. The transition requires a global effort, and it necessitates change from all of us. Furthermore, there is no one-size-fits-all solution; instead, it requires the pooling of knowledge and experiences from diverse sources to make informed decisions for the future.

Renske and Maarten aspire to contribute to this global effort by sharing the insights and skills they have developed during their expedition. They believe in the power of collaboration and aim to connect people, boost enthusiasm for sustainability, and help individuals find practical ways to make a difference. They are already actively sharing knowledge about electric driving with everyone they meet on their journey.

Upon their return, Renske and Maarten plan to share their expedition experiences and insights with various stakeholders, including companies and government entities. They hope to engage with their audience, encouraging immediate action and collective change to address the challenges of the energy transition.

Overcoming the Toughest Challenge

Renske and Maarten faced their biggest challenge during their expedition on the road between Nigeria and Cameroon. With all other border crossings closed, this mountain road was their only option to continue their journey by land. However, their car was ill-suited for this rugged terrain, and the 150-kilometer stretch took them four days to navigate, averaging just 6 km/h. They also needed an additional day to charge their car using solar panels due to the increased energy consumption. It was a grueling experience that pushed their limits, both mentally and physically.

In such challenging situations, Renske and Maarten found it crucial to maintain calmness in their bodies and minds. They were honest with themselves and each other about their feelings, acknowledging the difficulties they were facing. This open communication was the first step in addressing the challenges.

They approached the challenge as a puzzle to solve together, recognizing that there are multiple possible solutions. They worked collaboratively to find the most optimal way to overcome the obstacles they encountered.

Besides, they emphasized the importance of evaluating and celebrating their achievements as a team once the challenge was resolved. Taking the time to learn from the experience allowed them to view it as a positive growth opportunity.

Adaptability became a key skill for both Renske and Maarten during the expedition. Despite making daily plans, they learned that each day could bring unexpected changes. New terrains, encounters with interesting people, or unforeseen road conditions often required flexibility and living in the moment. This flexibility extended to altering their plans on a daily basis to embrace the unpredictability of their journey.

Inspiring Sustainability Enthusiasm Worldwide

Renske and Maarten have had the opportunity to meet a diverse range of people during their expedition, including government officials, embassy staff, students, teachers, children, the elderly, and fellow travelers. While each person they meet responds differently to their journey, the vast majority—more than 99%—have been positive, curious, and proud to welcome this innovative expedition to their country.

As part of their interaction with locals and visitors alike, Renske and Maarten often give tours of their car and explain how it works. This hands-on experience not only educates people about electric vehicles and sustainable travel but also widens their perspective on the future of transportation and environmental responsibility.

Meeting such a wide array of people and witnessing their enthusiasm for sustainability and innovation energizes Renske and Maarten throughout their expedition, reinforcing the positive impact they hope to have by sharing their journey and insights with the world.

A Positive Perspective on Environmental Sustainability

Renske and Maarten embarked on their expedition with a unique perspective on environmental topics often covered in the media. They noticed that many of these issues were presented in a negative light, emphasizing what humanity was doing wrong, the slow pace of change, and the detrimental impact on the climate. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects, they chose to adopt a positive view.

Their approach involves highlighting the positive efforts of individuals and organizations dedicated to creating a more sustainable way of life. They believe that many people are actively working on innovative solutions and learning from their experiences. Renske and Maarten aim to shine a spotlight on these initiatives, giving them the recognition they deserve and inspiring others in the process.

Rather than dwelling on the damage to the environment, they focus on sharing creative and positive solutions they encounter during their journey. These solutions can range from using local ingredients for cooking and construction to finding inventive ways to reuse products and materials. Additionally, they document their visits to sustainable initiatives through videos, providing insights into how these projects began, what motivated the individuals behind them, and their visions for the future.

Renske and Maarten are passionate about showcasing the dedication and enthusiasm of those who have made it their mission to create positive change, and they believe that passion is one of the most inspiring forces in the world. Through their expedition, they hope to make sustainability an engaging and enjoyable topic for more people, encouraging them to get involved in the efforts to protect our planet.

A Journey of Self-Discovery

Renske’s personal growth during her expedition has been a transformative journey with several key realizations and developments. Firstly, she has gained a deeper understanding and appreciation of herself, recognizing her unique character and skills. This self-awareness has empowered her to realize her potential and believe in her ability to achieve more.

Secondly, Renske’s expedition has expanded her interest in and understanding of the diverse systems and ways of life people have around the world. She has encountered numerous cultures with their own distinct habits, shaped by centuries of experience. This cultural diversity fascinates her, and she believes that there is much to learn from these differences. As a female leader, her ability to work effectively with a wide range of people is a fundamental skill, and her genuine interest in others has helped her engage more people in her journey.

Renske has also come to appreciate that, despite significant progress in women’s rights over the past century, true gender equality is still a work in progress. While legal rights have evolved, deeply ingrained habits, assumptions, and skills developed over centuries continue to shape societal dynamics. The expedition has taught her that it will take many more years for true equality to be realized. Renske recognizes that women have not been in leadership roles for long, and she believes that embracing and leveraging the unique qualities of both male and female leaders can be highly valuable. She is determined to be a female leader who uses her distinct character and qualities to contribute to positive change and promote gender equality.

Seize the Day

Renske’s message to others is a powerful call to action: She encourages individuals to start today with their ideas and aspirations. Renske emphasizes that as humans, one can often find excuses to postpone plans or dreams, waiting for a better time. However, she believes that today is a precious gift, and people should seize the present moment to pursue their goals and enjoy the journey.

Leave a Reply