Environmentalists will tell you that the key to living a sustainable lifestyle is more about what you do, rather than what you own. And nothing proves that point quite like owning an RV or motorhome.
RVs and motorhomes have a reputation of being a traveling contradiction to conservation. On the one hand, nothing inspires you to preserve and protect nature quite like a classic cross-country road trip. On the other hand, hitting the road in a gas-guzzling, oversized rig seems to completely contradict living a low-impact lifestyle.
But what if we told you that taking to the open road in an RV or motorhome can still be an eco-friendly alternative to other methods of travel?
While it’s fair to wonder what kind of carbon footprint you’re leaving along the highway, you can easily counterbalance your RV’s carbon emissions by making a few simple adjustments to your adventure rig, travel plans, or your daily habits on the road.
To help you on your mission to go green, we’ve put together some helpful tips to sustainable living on the road.
Conserve water and electricity
The fundamental rule for going green, even at home, is to conserve water and electricity. By preserving water and power, you not only protect limited natural resources, but you also reduce the amount of coal, crude oil, and fossil fuels released into the atmosphere.
What you might not realize, however, is that by simply choosing to spend your time in a 300 square-foot home on wheels, instead of a traditional 1,000-plus square foot home, Airbnb, or hotel, you’ve already cut your daily water and power usage, more or less, in half.
However, outside of consolidating square footage, there are a few more resource-saving strategies you can use to conserve water and electricity.
- Replace traditional light bulbs with LED lighting. LEDs use less energy, last longer than conventional light bulbs, and have the bonus of emitting less heat.
- Go solar. Installing a solar kit to power RV essentials, or using portable solar panels to charge small electronic devices significantly reduces the amount of energy you consume on the road. Solar-loving RVers will also tell you that going solar allows you to seek more remote camping locations and spend more time off the power grid.
- Replace standard faucets and showerheads with high-efficiency options. Specialized RV-specific efficiency faucets and showerheads self-pressurize to reduce excess water consumption.
- Don’t leave the water running. When showering, brushing your teeth, or doing dishes, turn off the faucet in between use to keep water usage to a minimum.
You may be tempted to stock up on paper plates and plastic products when you hit the road, but if your goal is to go green, using reusable packaging and products does wonders for the environment.
Start by using reusable bags, dishware, silverware, and drinkware in lieu of disposable alternatives. Not only will this reduce overall waste, but it also does wonders for our global plastic problem.
When we generate excess waste, our planet pays the price. Every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic finds its way to the ocean—40 percent of which was used only once before being discarded. Unfortunately, it can take up to 500 years for an average plastic water bottle to fully decompose—if it ever does—and only 30 percent of all waste is properly recycled, annually.
Once you’ve taken steps to minimize your daily waste, the next best thing you can do for the environment is recycle. The intricate rules of recycling often deter travelers from separating their waste. However, resources available online can help you understand the guidelines and the impact of waste management. Some recyclables may even surprise you!
Buy in bulk and shop local
We won’t get too far into the weeds on how locally sourced products differ from products that are trucked thousands of miles to a commercial grocery store. However, it’s worth noting that small, local businesses generally consume fewer natural resources and create less pollution.
By shopping local and buying dry goods in bulk, you also minimize the use of disposable plastics, packaging, and product.
Next time you’re traveling, take a trip to a local grocery store, bakery, or farmers market. Local merchants will often encourage you to BOYC—bring your own container—so you can refill or stock up on goodies without purchasing one-and-done bags, boxes, or containers.
As a bonus, fresh produce and baked goods often taste better and are easier to store in small spaces.
You don’t have to sacrifice comfort to conserve, and you certainly don’t have to forgo your home on wheels to go green. Making a few simple adjustments to your travel habits on the road should give you peace of mind that you’re doing your part to protect the planet.
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