While sustainability used to be considered somewhat of a passing trend, it’s now a necessary way of life. Waste, pollution, and the consumption of natural resources are serious and ever-increasing concerns that aren’t just going to go away. As such, people need to find ways to live greener lives whenever they can.
For those who love to travel, go on road trips and camp, sustainability can sometimes be difficult to manage — especially if you’re driving a vehicle that contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, like an RV. However, RVing doesn’t have to be bad for the planet.
Whether you live out of an RV, use it for glamping, or like to go on road trips, there are many ways you can do so more sustainably. Let’s take a closer look at the environmental impact of RVing and offer useful tips for making your RV more green and eco-friendly when you travel.
The Environmental Impact of RVing
Although RVs are becoming more efficient, they can still negatively impact the planet in numerous ways, with the primary concern focusing on fuel consumption.
Vehicles, like RVs, are still primarily powered using fossil fuels. And when fossil fuels are burned, they release toxic chemicals into the atmosphere that pollute the environment and contribute to climate change. Generally, the bigger the vehicle, the more fossil fuels you burn, making RVs less than ideal due to their size.
Further, fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource that will eventually be depleted. People must reduce their fuel consumption in whatever ways they can and focus on using alternative sources of energy.
In addition to fuel consumption, RVers might also harm the environment in other ways. When people travel in an RV, they also produce waste and trash that can be harmful to local environments and natural habitats, if they don’t put their trash in proper trash receptacles nor look for recycle bins for their recyclables.
RVers can also cause wildfires if they aren’t careful about using and putting out campfires. They can even cause soil erosion from driving over certain natural areas. On top of all that, manufacturing RVs is generally not sustainable either. Building an RV requires a lot of energy and use of resources, which further contributes to waste and pollution.
However, as bad as this all sounds, sustainable RVing is attainable. It just takes a little extra thought, planning, and care.
Sustainable RV Tips
Whether you’re a seasoned RVer or want to get an RV for your future travels, it’s important to keep the following tips in mind to be as sustainable as possible and reduce your environmental impact:
Buy a Used RV
To start, it’s better to buy a used RV and fix it up than to buy a new one. Manufacturing new RVs further contributes to waste and pollution, so it’s helpful to make use of an RV that already exists.
Once you’ve found the one, you can give it a green makeover to make it more eco-friendly. Of course, more efficient and eco-friendly RVs are starting to become available, which can help cut down on fuel consumption.
Additionally, you can find a warranty for your vehicle to protect your purchase, even if it’s used. A warranty can also help you financially protect any sustainable upgrades you end up making to your RV.
Use Sustainable Materials
Designing or decorating an RV is a bit like decorating a small apartment — a little goes a long way and you have to use space as efficiently as possible. When choosing your materials and products for your RV, focus on using items that are more sustainable and come from eco-friendly brands.
A used RV may not have anything sustainable already in it, but you can find ways to reuse or recycle what it already has and try to buy as little as possible to minimize your carbon footprint. You can even find things from thrift shops and home improvement stores that sell previously used items and building materials.
Install Solar Panels and Use Energy-Efficient Appliances
Not only do RVs burn fuel from driving, but they also burn fossil fuels through the consumption of energy used to power the RV. It can help if you install solar panels and use more energy-efficient appliances to reduce your energy consumption. If used wisely, solar panels can eliminate your need to plug into power sources so you can be completely self-sustained.
Use Sustainable Plumbing Features
Water consumption and human waste are two major concerns when it comes to RVs. Installing a composting toilet and low-flow faucets can help. A composting toilet will reduce your water usage and recycle human waste so it can be converted into fertilizer for soil.
Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
Overall, when it comes to building a sustainable RV, it’s about reducing, reusing, and recycling as much as possible. Reduce the number of things you buy and consume, reuse what you can, and recycle items instead of throwing them away.
How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint When you hit the Road
Once your RV is set and it’s time to hit the road, there are additional things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint as you travel and camp:
- Plan a fuel-efficient route and stay in place for longer periods. The more you move, the more gas you burn.
- Cover your windows when it’s hot to keep your RV cool and limit the need for AC units or fans that use electricity.
- Bring bikes or a smaller vehicle for short day trips away from where your RV is parked. This allows you to reduce your fossil fuel usage during your camping trip.
- Shop at local farmer’s markets when traveling, as this helps support local communities rather than big brands that aren’t eco-friendly.
- Do your best to camp responsibly, especially when you’re in a larger group, to minimize your impact. Dispose of waste properly, pack out what you bring in, and respect the local nature.
- Travel to more eco-friendly destinations.
While RVing can have a significant impact on the environment, there are ways to go about it more sustainably. Again, always think “reduce, reuse, and recycle”. This can help you have a smaller impact so you can enjoy your RV knowing that you’re doing your part to help protect the planet.