I Love Green

30 Ways to Reduce Your Environmental Impact When You RV

More from Outdoor Living Newsletter October Outdoor Living Newsletter
A young girl standing in an RV throws empty water bottles into a blue rectangular recycling basket
Recycling is an easy way of caring for the environment on a road trip

"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together".
--Vincent Van Gogh

One of the great joys of going on an RV road trip is experiencing the sights, sounds and beauty of nature. Whether it is the simple pleasure of sitting around a campfire on a beautiful, starry night, or taking in grand landscape views of canyons, lakes, or oceans, these experiences serve as a constant reminder that it is very much in our interest to keep our natural surroundings beautiful.

We all have an impact on our environment. However, with a bit of forethought and planning we can minimize our impact with several little actions. To help get you started here's a list of 30 little things you can do to make this world a better place for each and every one of us:

  1. Build eco friendly fires. Use local wood to avoid introducing foreign insects into a fragile ecosystem.
  2. Minimize campfire impacts - Try and use a lightweight camping stove for cooking as campfires cause damage to vegetation and create an excessive demand for firewood. Only create a fire where it is allowed and within fire pans, fire rings and mound fires.
  3. Be sure the fire is dead before you leave - Drench your fire with water to ensure it's "stone cold dead".
  4. Leave No Trace - Leave your campsite looking better than it did when you arrived. Leave nothing behind, pickup trash that others may have left behind, and avoid tampering with anything that is in a natural state.
  5. Dispose of waste properly - Trash, leftover food and hygiene products should be packed out. Human waste should be disposed of in 6 to 8 inch deep catholes at least 200 feet away from lakes and streams. The same distance should be maintained when washing yourself or dishes.
  6. Use proper dump facilities for grey and black water - Dumping these at boondock sites attracts insects and vermin.
  7. Use non-toxic tank additives - Traditional waste water chemical treatments such as formaldehyde may actually be passed along to local water supplies or leach into soil from campground septic systems, so campers can keep things green by using bacterial additives rather than toxic chemicals to cut odors in waste tanks.
  8. Recycle as you travel - Keep your good recycling habits up while on your road trip! Separate garbage from recyclables while on board and take note of campground recycling categories to assure proper use of the campground's system.
  9. Avoid disposables - Use as few disposables as possible. Instead of using styrofoam for your plates and forks, go with the real thing. Also, use non-toxic cleaners.
  10. Dry laundry in the fresh air - Set up a campground clothesline or bumper-mounted clothesline instead of using the dry cycle on your RV washer/dryer or the campground facilities'.
  11. Turn the water off - When brushing your teeth don't leave the water running.
  12. Respect wildlife - Observe wildlife from a distance. Never follow or feed wild animals and always store food and trash well away from their reach. This principle is for the protection of humans and animals alike. You don't want to be eaten now do you?!
  13. Stick to established trails - Veering off of trails leads to erosion and is dangerous. Need we say more?
  14. Stick to designated campgrounds - There is a reason why certain areas of parks are sectioned off for camping and others are not. If you take it upon yourself to set up camp wherever you see fit you could compromise the local ecosystems that are being protected and put your safety and the safety of other campers at risk.
  15. Walk or ride a bike into town - If you're staying in a campground that is close to a town centre walk or ride a bike into town, it will reduce your carbon output.
  16. Use cruise control as often as possible - cruise control saves fuel at highway speeds by reducing excess gas pedal activity.
  17. Drive 55 - Driving at 55 mph on the highway reduces petroleum consumption, lessens your carbon footprint, and increases safety on the road.
  18. If you have the choice, go with the smaller RV - Just as with cars, the larger an RV is the more fuel it will burn. If you don't require the extra space of a larger RV go with the smaller, more fuel efficient model.
  19. Buy a Green RV - Look for the logo. If an RV is certified by a third party, such as TRA, you know that it has passed rigorous green standards.
  20. Minimize AC usage - use natural shade and awnings to keep cool instead. Fans also help to keep you cool inside.
  21. Use RV solar panels - Solar panels convert the sun's energy into energy for your RV, and allow you the freedom to go to remote locations while still receiving power.
  22. Use RV wind generators - RV wind generators are one more way to convert nature's energy.
  23. Offset your carbon footprint at CarbonFootprint.com or CarbonFund.org. These websites allow you to donate to a program that invests in reforestation, renewable energy, environmental cleanup etc.
  24. Buy local - Consider the amount of pollution created to get your food from the farm to your table. Whenever possible, buy from local farmers or farmers' markets, supporting a local economy and reducing the amount of greenhouse gas created when products are flown or trucked in.
  25. Adjust your thermostat - Adjust your thermostat one degree higher in the summer and one degree cooler in the winter. Each degree celsius less will save about 10% on your energy use! In addition, invest in a programmable thermostat which allows you to regulate temperature based on the times you are at home or away.
  26. Choose matches over lighters - Most lighters are made out of plastic and filled with butane fuel, both petroleum products. Since most lighters are considered "disposable", over 1.5 billion end up in landfills each year. When choosing matches, pick cardboard over wood. Wood matches come from trees, whereas most cardboard matches are made from recycled paper.
  27. Re-use brown paper bags - Re-use brown paper bags to line your trash can instead of plastic bags. Re-use bread bags and the bags you bring your produce back to the RV in.
  28. Travel less and stay longer in one place - Look for a campground that's within a 100 miles from home and plan to stay there for as long as possible to avoid moving from campground to campground.
  29. Convert by example - Encourage your family, friends, and neighbors to save resources too.
  30. Teach children to respect nature and the environment - Take them on hikes or camping. Help them plant a tree or build a birdhouse. Teach them by example.

Whether you're a camper, RVer, or both, preserving the natural habitat that you visit goes hand in hand with enjoying that special place. By taking small measures to protect nature you can ensure that natural beauty stays intact.

Copyright ©2013 Camping Road Trip, LLC

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