Though summer is the most popular season for RV travel, fall is close behind it. Indeed, there are plenty of folks across the country who love to load up their campers and head out to witness the changing foliage, bask in cooler temperatures and herald the coming of crisp autumn air.
One of the challenges that RV owners face? How to keep their treks eco-friendly. After all, traveling by RV comes with a number of environmental challenges. RVs get low gas mileage, plus they produce more carbon emissions than flying or simply taking a car.
The good news is that, by following a few basic tips, it's possible to make your RV travels more eco-friendly. Here are some earth-conscious steps to take for your next RV adventure.
Ways to Have a More Environmentally Friendly RV Vacation
Although RV trips can have poor environmental impacts, there are a few ways to make your travels more eco-friendly. We recommend following these tips:
1. Focus on Fuel Efficiency
One of the first things you can do to make your next RV trip more sustainable is to take the necessary precautions to optimize fuel efficiency. Start by lightening your load, eliminating any of those "just in case" items that you're more than likely never going to need. Also, be sure to regularly check tire pressure and keep up with your manufacturer's suggested maintenance schedule. Each of these things will help your RV perform more efficiently.
Another thing you can do to get more miles per gallon is to drive at an optimal speed. Camper Report recommends cruising at 63 mph or slower and never exceeding 65 mph.
2. Prioritize Energy Efficiency
In addition to boosting your fuel economy, there are a number of ways you can make your RV a more energy-efficient ride. Here are a few actions we recommend:
- Switch to LED lights: Switching your light bulbs and lighting strips to LEDs is relatively easy and affordable for most RVs.
- Use energy-efficient appliances: From refrigerators to microwaves, there are probably more energy-efficient alternatives to the current appliances in your RV. Consider swapping out as many as you can.
- Park strategically: Instead of cranking the air conditioning on hot days, park in the shade. And when it's cold, park in direct sunlight rather than flipping on your space heater.
- Insulation: If you'll be traveling throughout late fall and winter, or are visiting cold-weather destinations at other times of the year, consider investing in some insulation for your RV.
These are just a few small ways to boost the energy efficiency of your recreational vehicle.
3. Install Solar Panels on Your RV
Another great way to make your RV trip more sustainable is to install solar panels on your vehicle. A good solar setup can harness clean, renewable energy from the sun, convert it into usable electricity, and provide you with an eco-friendly way to power appliances or charge your devices.
There are a few options for solar panels for RVs, including systems that are fixed to the roof of your camper and ones that are portable and that can be taken in and out of the vehicle when needed. There are also rigid and flexible solar panels to choose from depending on whether you have a curved roof.
Although solar panels will increase the weight of your ride, the power they produce more than offsets any added energy expenditure related to fuel efficiency.
4. Cut Down on Waste
Eco-friendly RV adventurers should also try to reduce any waste generated by food and supplies. A few tips to cut down on trash on the road include:
- Shop smart: Waste reduction starts with buying less. Try to purchase food and supplies in bulk, and stop at local zero-waste shops and farmers markets along your route.
- Compost: Keep a kitchen compost bin in the galley and empty it at municipal trash facilities whenever possible. If smells become a concern, you can keep a compostable trash bag in your freezer to store food scraps without odors.
- Reuse and recycle: Repurpose and reuse waste when you can, and keep tabs on the regulations in the areas you're traveling through so you know what you can recycle.
- Ditch disposables: Use real cutlery, plates, napkins, cups and other alternatives to single-use plastic items.
5. Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products
The cleaning products you use along your RV trip can have big environmental impacts. Non-toxic, eco-friendly cleaning products are best for inside surfaces, as they allow you to avoid any risk of sending harmful chemicals out into surrounding ecosystems. Plus, they're better for your health, especially when using them in small, enclosed spaces like a camper.
For cleaning your septic tank, we recommend enzyme-based cleaners; again, the goal is just to avoid toxic or artificial chemicals whenever possible.
6. Switch to Biodiesel
Something else you can do to make your RV trek more eco-friendly? Switch to biodiesel.
Biodiesel is a renewable, biodegradable fuel source, typically made from animal fats and vegetable oils. Some biodiesel is made with recycled restaurant greases, too.
Biodiesel is a clean-burning alternative to traditional petroleum products. Making the switch will significantly reduce your RV's contributions to air pollution, among other benefits.
There are more than 300 biodiesel fueling stations in the U.S. and Canada. You can see a complete directory via the U.S. Department of Energy. Note that RVs that run on conventional diesel are almost always compatible with biodiesel.
7. Adhere to Best Practices When Camping
Finally, keep a few eco-friendly tips in mind when you set up camp.
- Camp in designated campsites: This helps preserve natural vegetation and concentrates visitor use impact.
- Practice responsible dispersed camping: If you are in a primitive area, make sure to research all local regulations concerning dispersed camping before parking for the night.
- Follow Leave No Trace principles: There are seven Leave No Trace principles: plan ahead and prepare; travel and camp on durable surfaces; dispose of waste properly; leave what you find; minimize campfire impacts; respect wildlife; be considerate of other visitors. By adhering to these, you can ensure you're camping as sustainably as possible.
While this article contains a number of ideas for making your RV trips more eco-friendly, adopting just a few of them can make a huge difference for environmental impact on the road.