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Can RV travel be sustainable? Maybe you love the idea of the RV lifestyle but are worried that a gas-guzzling RV will be the opposite of eco-friendly.
Of course, there are plenty of inherent aspects of RV life that encourage sustainable living—living a minimalist lifestyle in a small space, for instance. But there are ways to take your planet-saving efforts further while still making the most of your trip. Here are some easy things you can do to reduce your environmental footprint.
Easy Ways to Travel Green in an RV
Are you looking for simple ways to make your RV lifestyle greener? Check out these practical tips.
Choose a Smaller RV
One of the easiest (but most impactful) changes you can make is to opt for a smaller RV. Instead of a huge Class A, pick a Class C or even Class B model to use less electricity and fuel.
A smaller RV also gives you the chance to get creative when it comes to storing your belongings and equipment. Check out this list of useful hacks to keep everything neat and organized rather than relying on disposable items.
Not in the market for an RV just yet? Consider holding off until the Airstream eStream comes out. It’s an electric travel trailer that uses the power of the sun (plus impressive batteries) for truly off-grid living.
When you’re driving, stick to a speed of 55–60 mph wherever possible. This is the optimum point for efficient fuel consumption.
Before setting off on any trip, make sure your RV’s tires are inflated to the correct pressure. If they’re below their ideal pressure, you’ll be using more fuel than you need to.
You can help the environment in addition to saving money by purchasing a gently-used RV kit. Loads of items for your RV—from cushions to appliances—can be bought second-hand.
If you do need to purchase a new item, look for eco-friendly options. For instance, if you’re buying a refrigerator for your RV, make sure you get one that’s as energy-efficient as possible.
Think About Where You Park
Once you reach the campsite or place you’re staying, spend a few moments choosing the right place to leave your RV.
On a hot day, make sure you’re parking in the shade for as long as possible or add an awning for extra shade. During the winter, park with your biggest windows facing southwest. This will maximize the amount of afternoon sun coming into your RV, keeping you warm for free.
Be Considerate of the Natural Environment When Parked
Avoid parking offroad, as this can damage plant life under your heavy tires. Instead, stick to suitable hard ground. And it goes without saying, but don’t leave litter behind: it can harm animals and pollute water sources.
Be cautious about how you dispose of gray water. Don’t simply dump it, unless you’re in an area where it’s definitely safe to do so, as products like soap can be harmful to animals and plant life.
Stick to Good Eco-Friendly Principles While Traveling
All the eco-friendly things that you’d naturally do at home still apply when you’re traveling in an RV—even if they take a little more effort. Aim to:
- Keep recycling separate from trash. This may mean storing items until you’re able to recycle them, so make sure you have a suitable space for this.
- Choose reusable items rather than disposable ones. For instance, you could use beeswax wraps and reusable food storage containers instead of disposable plastic bags.
- Take shorter showers and consider turning off the water while you soap up. In addition to being more eco-friendly, this helps reduce the number of times you need to refill your freshwater tank.
- Be conscious of your water use during daily tasks. Minimize your water use when brushing your teeth, washing dishes, and cooking.
Reuse Gray Water If You Can … and Dispose of Wastewater Correctly
Gray water is the water that comes from your sink or shower. It’s no longer clean or fresh, but it can be reused for flushing your toilet. Some RVs already have this system in place, but if yours doesn’t, you may be able to convert it.
You should dispose of waste water correctly at RV parks and campsites. This is especially important when it comes to black water, which must be disposed of through a sewer line. Never dump black water onto the ground, even in areas where you can do this with gray water.
Going Further with Green Travel in Your RV
Ready to make even more impactful changes to improve your RV’s eco-friendliness? Here are three more advanced ideas:
Fit Out Your RV Using Eco-Friendly Materials
If you’re refurbishing your RV (or starting from scratch in fitting out a vehicle), make sure you use eco-friendly and sustainable materials, such as bamboo and recycled steel.
With some RVs, you can fit a composting toilet rather than one that flushes with water. Composting toilets don’t need water, and they also eliminate the need to empty a black water tank.
Use Biodiesel If You Can
Most of the environmental impact of driving an RV is from gas or diesel consumption. If you have a diesel RV, you can likely use biodiesel: a renewable fuel made from waste cooking oil, vegetable oil, and/or animal fats.
Some filling stations offer biodiesel blends, making it easy to fill up with an eco-friendly fuel. You can even make your own biodiesel.
Harness the Power of the Sun
Solar panels can supply most of the electricity you’ll need for your RV, keeping your lights on and even powering your refrigerator.
You might also consider using a solar-powered shower. This works well for small RVs, as you can use a solar-heated bag of water to take an outdoor shower.
Going Green in Your RV
There are lots of great ways to travel green in an RV. Many of the eco-friendly tweaks above are also wallet-friendly. Simple things like being more fuel-efficient and buying second-hand could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars and help you protect our planet during your RV adventures.