How to Be a More Responsible RVer
We have both been environmentalists for as long as we can remember. David pitched his parents on the idea of solar panels for their Cleveland home long before solar was mainstream. Kelly worked at the recycling center in college and loves to find ways to reduce waste. So, of course, we carried this mindset over when we started living full-time in our Winnebago Revel in June 2019.
The RV lifestyle is inherently green. RVs are generally smaller than houses and more efficient to heat or cool while using less water and producing less waste. Taking a vacation in an RV also avoids the big impact of plane rides.
But, we've generated our top 10 tips to make your RV lifestyle even greener!
1. Leave your camp spot better than you found it.
Whether you are at a campground, Walmart or in the woods, never leave waste behind and pick up any trash you see left by others. In a dispersed camping area, try to use an existing site to avoid new disturbances. The 'Leave No Trace' principles are great guidelines regardless of where you are. (Check out these tips for using these principles while visiting our national parks!)
2. Support the local economy.
Look for opportunities to shop at local grocery stores and eat at local restaurants. Many small towns have farmers' markets on Wednesdays and Saturdays, which are great opportunities to meet locals and provide your support. Shopping locally has many benefits, including preserving local character, keeping revenue in the community, and supporting entrepreneurship.
3. Avoid disposables.
Even if you recycle a can or bottle when you are done with it, producing disposables and finding ways to reuse them takes a lot of energy. We love our reusable water bottles, travel coffee mugs, and cloth bags for everything from groceries to snacks and produce. If you think you might have leftovers when eating out, bring in a container to take the extra food with you. Another advantage to using your own containers is that you can buy containers that fit perfectly in your refrigerator. Interested in composting and more ways to avoid waste while RVing, read more here.
Also, if your vehicle needs DEF (diesel exhaust fluid), like ours does, check out this website to find gas stations with DEF at the pump rather than in plastic tubs.
It is nearly impossible to avoid using some plastic, paper, glass, and aluminum. We keep two bags in the van--one for trash and one for recyclables. Most campgrounds offer recycling and cities typically have helpful information online about where and what you can recycle.
5. Add solar to your RV.
Our rooftop solar panels keep our batteries charged, so we don't need a generator or hookups when at a campground. A portable solar panel can also provide some extra energy from the sun.
6. Be energy conscious.
Be aware of the energy you are using and look for ways to reduce your energy needs. Try to take shorter showers, open the windows instead of using the air conditioner, and turn lights off when not needed. We take advantage of sunny days to charge our electronics using the excess solar we produce. These small changes make a big impact over time.
7. Maximize your fuel efficiency.
There are a number of things you can do to get better gas mileage, including checking your tire pressure often, keeping your speed steady, following vehicle towing guidelines, loading your RV so it is balanced, and minimizing idling. Plan your route to reduce the driving you'll need to do. Look for opportunities to park your RV for the day and take public transit or bike instead of moving your vehicle throughout the day.
8. Use eco-conscious products.
Use biodegradable dish soap, shampoo, and body wash. Try natural tank deodorizers to avoid harsh chemicals.
9. Keep your campfires as green as possible.
While campfires are a lot of fun, they do release pollutants into the air. Keep your fires small, never burn trash, and follow local policies on wood. Always put out fires completely.
10. Practice good dump station etiquette.
Dump stations are an unavoidable part of having an RV, but the experience doesn't have to be a bad one. Clean up after yourself and never leave used gloves behind or evidence from your tank. If there is a line, be efficient and considerate of those waiting.
Happy green RVing!