Many view RV camping as a double-edged sword. Obviously, driving thousands of miles across the country with approximately 8 miles per gallon fuel economy is pretty rough on the environment, the US oil demand, and travelers' wallets. So when owners of recreational vehicles camp less often and don't travel as far away, this means fewer green house gas emissions linked to climate change. But this positive change for the environment results in declining numbers of visitors to US national parks, which could eventually mean less interest in outdoor and wildlife conservation.
Since the answer to this eco-debate isn't as black and white as simply taking campers, travel trailers, and motorhomes off the road, RV campers must do as much as possible to diminish their impact on the environment. After all, if we don't take time to preserve the remains of the planet, there won't be any more places to vacation, in an RV or otherwise! Surprisingly, putting the following tips to use could cause something as eco-unfriendly as RV camping to have a smaller impact than the average suburban home!
CONSIDERATIONS FOR RV CAMPING
If your recreational vehicle has a diesel engine, consider converting it to run on vegetable oil you can get for free at restaurants around the country. By using something that would otherwise go to waste, you can create 75 percent fewer emissions than regular diesel and save hundreds of dollars on fuel and fuel-related expenses.
- When you're preparing to take a shower, use a large container to catch that water that would otherwise go down the drain while you get the temperature just right. Keep that collected water to use for washing dishes, or put it in your pet's water bowl.
- Use less water when you wash your behemoth rig by using a biodegradable, waterless cleaner like Dri - Wash ‘ n Guard ™. Not only has this particular product shaped the waterless car care industry, it can be used for everything from removing those stubborn streaks and marks lining your RV to cleaning your greasy stovetop and removing stubborn laundry stains. An added bonus to this multi-use product is that it lasts a long time so you can get several washing jobs out of just one bottle.
- Rub your hands with a few drops of waterless disinfectant lotion, which is available at most drugstores, before you handle food. This saves water and is just good camp hygiene.
- Barbecue more of your food to reduce the amount of water you use before and after mealtimes. This might sound like a weird suggestion, but barbecues can make entire meals without the use of pots or pans, so you only have to wash the dishes and cutlery you eat with.
- Cut down on waste by using cloth napkins and dish towels instead of napkins or paper towels, and use real plates instead of paper or Styrofoam.
- Skoy Cloths are another way you can reduce your dependency on paper products. With an absorption factor of 15 times their own weight, these paper towels/rags can be used multiple times, drying within minutes after use. Additionally, even after Skoy Cloths have been thrown into the trash, they will completely biodegrade within five weeks.
- To reduce your plastic waste, use a stainless steel water bottle and reusable cloth bags for on-the-road grocery storage and shopping.
This will probably be one of the hardest things to maintain while attempting to RV camp the eco-friendly way. As long as you stay organized, however, recycling on the road is possible.
- Just keep a trash can for recyclables inside your RV, and then sort them into three small bags you place in your tow vehicle or in underneath storage.
- If you know your route ahead of time you can do a Google search and map all the recycling drop-offs along your journey, or you can just use Google Maps on your Smartphone from the road.
- Alternatively, you can ask restaurants, grocery store managers, or schools if you can use their recycling bins.
Older RV models typically have small amounts of insulation, which causes loss of heat or cool air.
- Offset this lost air by checking for drafts and checking the seals around the doors and windows.
- Use heavier curtains and park in sunnier spots in the winter.
- Avoid parking in full sun in summer months whenever possible.
- Invest in a windshield shade and an insulating reflective vent cover.
- While you're on the road, find farmers markets, local farms, and natural food stores to patron. If you drive into a new place and don't know where to look, visit the Local Harvest and Green People websites.
- Support the local economy in each place you visit by shopping small stores, flea markets, thrift stores, and locally-owned RV stores instead of chain and department stores.