Typical travelers on the highway may look at your RV and compare it to less than environmentally friendly, gas-guzzling SUVs like the Humvee. According to modern C02 emissions reports, however, RV travel is more environmentally-friendly than alternative travel arrangements like flying or renting a car.
RVs typically use lightweight materials in order to increase their fuel efficiency. On top of that, RVs are increasingly being constructed from more “eco-friendly” materials. In fact, there are several “green” options currently on the market, so you really can have an environmentally-friendly RV!
Furthermore, if you are a full-time RVer, you are even more likely to be conserving energy than your house-living counterparts. Motorhomes are smaller, so you only need to clean, cool, heat, and maintain a couple hundred square feet of space. People who live in RVs — particularly those who occasionally boondock — are efficient and especially conservative with resources like electricity and water. When you add a solar kit, you improve those odds exponentially. Here are some other tips to become a more environmentally-friendly RVer:
Plan Your Trips.
One of the first things you need to do to minimize your carbon footprint is to plan out your trips to eliminate unnecessary driving. Therefore, it is a good idea to add Internet to your rig. This allows you to find the most efficient routes, which cuts fuel waste from extra driving around. Additionally, you can find the least expensive places to fuel-up.
Closer Locations. Make getting there half the fun. Consider boondocking (without the generator) while experiencing the country. Drive to the next location and stay there for a while or choose vacation spots that are closer to point of origin.
Identify Lower-costing Fueling Stations on the Route. There are several effective apps for identifying the least expensive fueling stations along your route, such as Gas Guru. Using any of them will improve your odds of saving money by identifying the lowest prices.
Maximize Fuel Efficiency.
You can make a big impact on your fuel efficiency by adjusting a few things. Consider using alternative fuel options. For example, Flex-fuel RVs run on E-85 ethanol-based fuel and diesel fueled engines can use bio-diesel fuels when available. There are, in fact, many ways to minimize emissions from RV travel, including the following:
Keep Your RV Maintained. Stay on top of your scheduled maintenance. Keeping up with your motorhome’s oil changes and transmission servicing really affects fuel efficiency, as well as extends the life of your RV.
Reduce Your Weight. By packing only what you absolutely need for your trip (or your lifestyle), you reduce your overall weight. This minimizes the amount that you are pulling while you drive. Consider using up all of your fresh water and dumping your gray and black water before traveling. This reduces how much weight you are carrying and, therefore, how much fuel you need to use while you drive.
Inflate Your Tires. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, by properly inflating the tires of your RV, you improve its fuel-mileage by over 3.3%. It's also advised that you replace your tires every seven years to ensure their integrity, which also helps improve your fuel use.
Slow Down on Hills. Enjoy the panoramic view. Driving an RV isn’t a race; take your time and slow down. When you drive more slowly, you use less fuel, especially on hills.
Bring an Energy Efficient Vehicle. Take a smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicle like a bike, Vespa, or Smart car. This makes driving your RV around unnecessary.
To reduce trash and minimize your “footprint,” choose low-packaged, resealable, organic, and locally produced products, which are all better for the earth; plus, the fewer things you buy, the fewer things you have that wind up in the trash. Choose quality products to lengthen their lives, which also reduces the amount of trash you have.
Take your own reusable grocery bags to the store in order to reduce the number of plastic bags that end up in the waste basket. If you choose to use plastic bags, recycle them or reuse them as trash bags in small waste baskets.
Minimize Your Trash.
Try to use fewer disposable items when camping. Instead of packing paper plates and plastic-ware, use real dishes (maybe plastic to avoid breakage). Try to cook the appropriate amount for your group so you don’t end up throwing away leftovers. If you stay at a campground with an outdoor sink, use it. It is a great way to reduce trash, as well as your personal water use.
Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
Find opportunities to reuse consumable products. Refill plastic water bottles instead of throwing them away. Reuse squares of aluminum foil and sandwich bags. Then, place an extra bag or container in your storage compartment to collect recyclable cans or bottles. Lastly, popular apps like “irecycle” are available to help you find recycling depots as you travel.
Reduce Utility Use.
By reducing the amount of electricity and water that you use, you impact the planet less. There are several ways that you can live “off grid” or at least reduce your consumption including the following:
Energy. Make sure that your appliances are updated. A newer refrigerator uses less energy than an older one. Cut back on your AC and heater use. During the summer, park in shady spots and keep the windows open; which minimizes energy use and keeps your RV’s internal temperature lower. During the winter, park where your RV where it is exposed to the sun while being shielded from the northern and western winds. Furthermore, use solar energy as much as possible. Installing a few solar panels can easily handle 90% of your RV’s generator use.
Water. Use a good water filtration system. Not only will you save money on bottled water, but you will also reduce plastic consumption, as well as the amount of trash that you accumulate. Installing low-flow faucets also minimizes your water use. Additionally, you can also adjust how you cook. Grill outside, use a crockpot, or use non-stick pans to minimize clean-up. Use pan-liners and wash your dishes in a dish pan or bucket to minimize the amount of effort and water used.
Use & Create Fewer Chemicals.
Using natural products and engaging in activities that don’t create harmful chemicals makes sure that your “footprint” is small.
Cleaning Products. It is amazing what you can do with just vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda. If you don’t want to go “old school,” there are many companies that have made cost-effective cleaning products that are biodegradable and haven’t been tested on animals. Otherwise, choose a natural solution of vinegar and water to spritz your counters and baking soda to scrub out stains.
Tank Cleaners. Use enzyme-based tank cleaners as a natural way to keep black and gray water tanks clean. Traditional tank cleaners and deodorizers use toxic chemicals like formaldehyde, which poison watersheds and may possibly even cause cancer. For the health of your community, select an enzyme-based tank cleaner. Also be sure to buy camping toilet paper or a conservative brand like Scott that breaks down quickly, which minimizes the amount of cleaner that you need to use, as well as the amount that comes out of your waste tank.
Consider Campfires. Campfires are magical, but few people actually use them as alternative heat sources to minimize the amount to electricity or propane they use. Unfortunately, campfires release a ton of ash and toxins; therefore, it is just logical that fewer and smaller campfires minimize the impact on the environment. Also make sure to avoid burning trash in the fire ring. Plastic goods and many paper products release toxins when they’re burned.
Leave No Trace.
Lastly, if you pack it in, pick it up. Being environmentally friendly, as well as adhering to the most common degree of campground etiquette, requires campers to leave each campsite trash-free. Every RV park we’ve been to has had a dumpster or two, typically located near the exit, as well as maybe a couple of bins for recyclables. Just put things where they belong.
Green or eco-friendly Rving is not an oxymoron. Not only do most motorhomes create fewer emissions than other traditional modes travel, living in one full-time means that you will be reducing your entire carbon footprint.