I Love Green

Campground owners who go "green" save some green

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More from Outdoor Living Newsletter January Outdoor Living Newsletter
Butterfly sitting on the Earth surrounded by grass
Campgrounds and RV parks are going green

"As people alive today, we must consider future generations: a clean environment is a human right like any other. It is therefore part of our responsibility towards others to ensure that the world we pass on is as healthy, if not healthier, than we found it." - Dalai Lama

If we don't preserve it, we can't enjoy it. As the number of campers and RV'ers has grown steadily in the past few years, campgrounds have had to adjust to a growing demand. The increase in demand has created a golden opportunity for campgrounds: make their campground more efficient and environmentally friendly.

Realizing the benefits that can be brought about by making their campgrounds low impact, campground owners and campground associations have recently adopted programs to ensure environmental sustainability. Ocean Lakes Family Campground in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina has fully embraced the environmental movement. In June the campground launched iCare, a program to reduce the environmental impact of the campground and its guests.

The program, which focuses on pet pollution, litter, and recycling, takes a humorous approach to environmental friendliness; guests checking in to the campground are asked to use the "iCare Kit" to pick up after their pets. The iCare Kits are housed in iCare stations, which feature a doggie figure holding a martini class full of free dog treats. The approach has proved successful. "The light-hearted spin we have put on the process of picking up after your pet has really been embraced by our guests and we're excited at what a positive response we've gotten from everyone involved," said Barb Krumm, director of marketing and public relations.

At Bear Canyon Campground in Bozeman, Montana environmentalism has become internalized. A visit to their website reveals that low impact camping is part of the rules. Tents must be moved to a different site every three days, water must be conserved, and vehicles are not allowed to be washed.

In an effort to get its members to implement environmentally friendly policies the ARVC developed Plan-It Green. The program, which commenced in 2008, can be summed up as educational commitment. Participating campgrounds receive instruction on methods of reducing water and energy usage, in addition to waste management and consumer education. Methods are surprisingly simple, yet effective. For instance, the site advises campground owners to switch from incandescent bulbs to fluorescent bulbs, which according to the site last 4 times longer, and contribute 25% less landfill material (than incandescent bulbs). Another simple tip - turn off lights, computers, and copy machines during the night. It may result in 5%-15% savings on electric bills.

To ensure campgrounds hold to their promise, campground owners sign the Plan-It Green pledge. To further incentivize campgrounds to participate, the association has created the Plan-It Green Park Award. The coveted award is given to one park per year.

The green trend has caught on internationally. In the UK, campgrounds run by the Camping and Caravanning club have bins for different waste and bottle banks at sites. When applying for planning permission for a new site - or the development of an existing one - they include attractive landscaping and tree planting etc. This benefits the environment and makes staying on the sites a more pleasant experience for campers.

As the interest in the great outdoors has grown in the past few years, new challenges have been created by that interest. Fortunately, forward thinking campground owners and associations have taken the future into consideration, and have found ways to minimize the impact of all those interested, while maximizing their enjoyment. Thankfully for future generations to come, green seems to be the color on everyone's lips.

When searching for a green campground, you want to make sure the campground lives up to its green claim. Here are some of the things to look out for in a green campground.

  1. Recycling.  Campground offers recycling to its guests.
  2. Avoids chemicals.  Campground avoids using products or chemicals that are harmful to the environment.
  3. Fluorescent bulbs.  Campground uses fluorescent light bulbs.
  4. Low flow showers.  Campground has 2 gallon per minute on-off switch type shower heads or similar.
  5. Reduce carbon footprint.  Campground is making an effort to offset its carbon footprint.
  6. Green energy.  Campground offers green energy to its guests.
  7. Plant trees.  Campground plants trees to offset carbon emissions.

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