If you’re passionate about traveling, chances are you’re also passionate about the planet you’re traveling on — enough so that you don’t want to have a negative impact on it in the course of trying to see it.
RVers in particular face a bit of an innate contradiction; our large, gas-guzzling vehicles can make it difficult to feel good about the tourism we’re engaging in. We might be wreaking havoc on the very natural wonders we’re using our rigs to see.
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to make your RV a much more eco-friendly space. In this post, we’ll walk you through some of the best tips and tricks for learning how to go green in your RV, from creating less waste to getting more fuel-efficient.
Eco-Friendly RV Living Tips
If you’re wondering how to live waste-free, the answer is — you probably won’t be able to implement an entirely zero-waste camping experience. From the fuel emissions, your camper will create to the plastics that make it possible to package and store your food, most of us aren’t going to be perfect when it comes to eco-friendliness and sustainability.
But there is a growing contingency of people who are focused on finding better ways to get around and see the world: a branch of travel called ecotourism or eco-travel, which extends far beyond the RV world. Here are some basic facts about eco travel.
Eco Travel Facts
Without going into a dictionary definition, ecotravel, green travel, or sustainable tourism all refer to the same general idea: Trying to make the lightest possible impact on the environment during whatever type of travel you’re taking on. Basically, it means trying to stay as green as possible while you’re on the road.
Eco travelers might take to the road on their bikes, for instance, in order to avoid adding to emissions or participate in ecotourism opportunities that allow them to better the destinations they’re visiting — such as traveling to a place in need and helping build basic infrastructure or provide aid.
RVing is a great way to see nature, but it can be a little hard on the environment. After all, big Class A motorcoaches sometimes get as little as six miles to the gallon — they’re not exactly leading the pack when it comes to fuel efficiency!
However, if you take steps to mitigate the other ways your camping trip impacts the environment, you can still see the country while feeling good about your sustainability efforts.
Eco-Friendly Travel in an RV
While RVs all (at least so far) run on fossil fuels, there’s a lot of variability in exactly how not green your RVing experience is going to be. You have at least a modicum of control over how large your rig is, how much it weighs, how fast you drive, and how far you travel.
All of these have a serious impact on how much you add to the growing emissions problem — and there are also other ways you can navigate your day-to-day RVing lifestyle that can have a big impact, too.
Eco-Friendly Camper Tips
Below, find some of our best camping tips for eco-friendly RVs and motorhomes.
1. Leave no trace.
As a camper, chances are you’ve heard about Leave No Trace principles before. But for those of you who haven’t, LNT is a set of guidelines designed to help travelers enjoy and engage in the environment while impacting it as little as possible.
While there’s a larger movement surrounding LNT, its main message consists of seven relatively simple principles:
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of other visitors
It’s easy to follow almost all of these principles simply by abiding by most campground rules. For instance, avoiding burning anything outside of a designated campfire circle is part of following principle five.
Respecting wildlife includes ensuring that you dispose of things properly so that bears and other animals can’t raid your trash can, which takes care of both principles six and three at the same time.
2. Go vegetarian — or vegetarian-ish.
This is a big one — and one that’s liable to make some of you balk. Vegetarianism is a huge lifestyle change for people who are currently following a traditional American diet.
But reducing your consumption of meat, as well as dairy products and eggs, has a huge impact on your overall carbon emissions. That’s because meat is one of the costliest food sources to produce, from a carbon standpoint; producing meat is actually the primary source of methane emissions, even more so than auto travel.
Along with being better for the planet, reducing the overall amount of meat you eat might lead to healthier eating patterns and even a lower overall grocery bill.
Which leads us to the next section of our post — because as it turns out, enacting some green behaviors is better for your wallet, as well.
Eco Travel on a Budget
Almost all of us are trying to travel in a budget-friendly, or at least budget-conscious, way. Here are some eco-travel tips that could also help reduce your travel costs.
3. Buy in bulk.
You know those bulk bins at Whole Foods or even your favorite corner grocery store?
Those are a whole lot more efficient than buying individual baggies of everything you need, from rice to granola to nuts. Using the bulk bins, combined with storing your food in reusable containers, can make for significant grocery store savings while also bringing your grocery bill way down. Bulk items priced by weight are usually a lot cheaper than their pre-packaged equivalents… plus you’ll be able to purchase exactly how much you need, which can help reduce food waste.
4. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
This is a big one and another one that can be implemented outside of your RVing habit. Making an effort to reduce our overall consumption, reuse what we’ve already got, and recycle what we can’t use again goes a long way towards creating a healthier world.
Reusing items can be an area to practice some creativity. For instance, there are many food containers that can be repurposed rather than tossed out, like reusing a large plastic yogurt container to hold items you purchased from that bulk bin section we were talking about. Glass jars from peanut butter, jam, and other goodies are also particularly useful in this area; they even look pretty in your cabinets once you strip off their labels.
Considering the cost of some pre-purchased reusable containers, like Pyrex, this can be a great way to reduce your overall consumption and get crafty with reusing things while also avoiding unnecessary expenditures.
5. Avoid using your furnace.
Burning propane is costly both in terms of dollars and emissions… and besides, who wants to camp where it’s cold enough to need to burn fossil fuels, anyway?
We recommend choosing destinations that don’t require you to light your furnace, which is an easy (and totally free) way to lower your overall footprint while also saving a few dollars along the way.
Speaking of destination choices…
Eco Travel Destinations
The destination you choose is a huge factor in determining the eco-friendliness of your RV experience. For instance, as mentioned above, choosing places (and seasons) where you don’t have to run your HVAC systems can seriously reduce your overall energy consumption.
But along with following the sun — or at least the 70-ish degree weather — there are other things to take into consideration when choosing an eco-friendly RV destination.
For starters, take another look at the Leave No Trace principles outlined above. These preclude campers from going into any backwoods site that hasn’t already been established as a campground, even if it’s a wilderness, boondocking campground. Avoid setting up camp in a place that’s totally untouched, as the simple motion of your tires on the ground will be a serious impact on that location. The same goes for campfires: only set fires in places that have clearly been used for campfires before. You also want to be conscious of local wildlife.
Camping only in designated campgrounds is a great way to meet those goals without much effort. But if you’re a boondocker, you can do even more: utilizing solar panels, or avoiding needing electricity altogether, makes for considerably less strain on the environment while also creating a more peaceful camping experience. Boondockers are also usually concerned with preserving water and avoiding producing too much trash, which means this style of camping has a lot of potential for being really green indeed.
Eco-Friendly Motorhome Tips
We hope this post on green RV living has given you eco-friendly campers a lot of food for thought when it comes to making your trip better for both Mother Earth and yourselves.
But if you’ve yet to secure the RV itself, we want to take this opportunity to clue you in on our peer-to-peer RV rental service.
RVshare is a lot like Airbnb for RVs: you’ll be renting a rig directly from its owner, which means you can anticipate lower overall costs and fewer hidden fees and other corporate bailiwicks. You’ll pick up your keys directly from the owners, who will be happy to show you around the rig and demonstrate its features.
Renting on RVshare might also be a way to reduce your overall impact, as our system doesn’t necessitate keeping large rental dealership floors open — which take up a lot of physical space and energy in their day-to-day operations.
Although taking the keys from a perfect stranger might sound a little bit intimidating if you’ve never done it before, RVshare’s platform makes it safe and easy for all parties. All communications and monetary transactions take place through the system, meaning your sensitive information is secure throughout the process, and all of our RVs are covered by A-rated insurance coverage, which lasts the entire duration of the camping trip.
For more information on the RVs available in your area today, navigate to our RV rental homepage, and input your data. You can also use our helpful filters to ensure you’re finding the very best rig for your needs
Happy (green) camping, everyone!
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