Be a Lean, Green, Eco RV Machine

One of the most popular ways families enjoy the outdoors is RVing. Up to 35 days are spent on average by RVers in RV parks and campgrounds across the country. Part of this is due to the comfort RVs provide to RV owners and their families.

Although RVing is a great and comfortable way to enjoy the outdoors, it can be very unfriendly to the environment. Motor vehicles - including RVs - are among the primary contributors to air, water and land pollution. From the toxic air pollutants released into the air from consuming fuel while driving, to the waste disposed after an RV trip, RV owners and their families sometimes don't realize how much their different activities while camping are actually harming the same outdoors that they love and enjoy.

The good news is that there are eco-friendly ways you and your family can go RVing that will help you to protect the environment and even save money. Below are 11 different tips on how you and your family can enjoy the outdoors during your next RV trip that are very easy to do.

1. Use Non-Disposable Items

Many RV owners and their families choose to use disposable items when they go RVing because they make cleaning up easier. However, they can hurt the environment, especially if they are not disposed properly. Choosing to use non-disposable items like cloth napkins and real plates is more earth-friendly. They also help you save money because you don't have to keep replenishing them each time you go RVing.

2. Recycling
If you do bring disposable items, make sure that you properly dispose of them so that they can be recycled. Recycling does take practice and discipline, but it is not impossible. The next time you go RVing, bring three boxes that you can use to sort your trash as you dispose of it. After your RV trip, you can dispose your trash at recycling drop-off points along the way in case there isn't any segregated trash bins within the park or campground you'll be staying at. You can also dump these at recycling trash bins in front of supermarkets or restaurants along the way, too. If you stay for extended periods at one campground, consider suggesting that the park initiate a recycling program. The operating cost is minimal and basically all is needed are a few bins: for plastics, glass, cans and possibly newspaper. The biggest challenge is getting someone to volunteer to drop off the full bins at respective recycling stations. At Hidden Valley RV Park, we find that RVers welcome the idea and take advantage of our bins by the laundry room.

3. Make Composts
Composts made from food scraps make excellent fertilizer. Instead of dumping food scraps into the garbage on your next RV trip, turn these into fertilizer by burying them in the soil within the RV park or campground where you're staying. A hole at least 12 inches deep will be enough for the bacteria within the soil to aid in the food scraps' decomposition without releasing any foul odor that comes with the decomposition process. This is not only an eco-friendly way to get rid of waste, but also help keep the plants within the park or campground healthy. Before doing this, make sure that you first get the permission of the owners of the RV Park or campground. Could avoid some embarrassment if they see you digging around your site. Certain food scraps are very beneficial to specific plants and landscapes. For example, cut up banana peels are better than any fertilizer for rose bushes. Birds love overly mature fruit and if you set it on your picnic table you'll have the added benefit of watching them gobble it down from your RV window.

4. Make your RV more Eco-Friendly

A few adjustments on your RV can make it more eco-friendly. One adjustment is by converting your RV so that it can run on alternative forms of fuel like used vegetable oil or biodiesel. It may initially be a bit expensive, but it is definitely worth it since you don't need to pay for fuel. Many restaurants will be willing to give you their used vegetable oil free of charge.

Another adjustment is by attaching solar panels on your RV.
Solar panels can power the different appliances inside your RV just as well as generators, allowing you to go RVing in parks and campgrounds that don't have any electric hookups. Since they don't emit fumes or make any noise, you don't have to worry about disturbing your neighbors, especially at night.

5. Regular RV Check-Up

Along with making adjustments to your RV so that it's more eco-friendly, it is important to make sure that you get your RV checked on a regular basis. In addition to minimizing problems and accidents during your RV trip, getting your RV checked on a regular basis will make sure that your RV remains fuel-efficient.

6. Opt for Alternate Ways to Get Around

Another eco-friendly tip when you go RVing is to use other means of getting around, whether inside the campground premises or to nearby attractions. Some large RV parks and campground offer free shuttle services to guests to bring them to different parts of the park or campground. Our San Antonio RV
Park has a shuttle that can arrange to pick you up for a bus tour including eight San Antonio attractions and drops you back at your RV site at the end of the day or half day tour. No gas, no maps needed, no parking fees or worry of finding a parking spot, free entrance into the Alamo, Missions, the Mexican Marketplace, the Buckhorn Hall of Horns Museum and a free 45 minute boat ride on the River Walk. What a deal! Alternatively, you can also invest in a bike to help you get around during your RV trip. Bikes are not just eco-friendly ways to get from point A to point B, but they are also a way to keep fit and healthy. Three miles from Hidden Valley, the Medina Natural area offers miles of walking and bike trails to get away to nature.

7. Switch to Enzyme-Based Cleaners and Deodorizers

When cleaning your RV before or after your trip, it is best to use enzyme-based cleaners and deodorizers instead of chemical-based ones. Chemical-based cleaners and deodorizers contain harmful chemicals like formaldehyde. These chemicals pollute the soil and water when it is drained away from your RV. On top of that, there have also been studies done that show that these chemicals can cause different kinds of cancers later on in your life.

8. Conserve Water and Other Utilities

Just because water or electric are included in the site fee doesn't mean that we should waste it. The more water we use, the more resources are needed by water sanitation plants to provide all of us clean water on a regular basis. So for example, when brushing your teeth don't leave the water running. Water and utility conservation can also keep RV site fees low. High usage of water also taxes septic systems and increases costs the RV parks pass on the RVers.

9. Use Eco-Friendly Materials in your RV

Every now and then, you will need to repair and replace certain parts inside your RV, like your flooring. When that time comes, make sure that you choose eco-friendly materials made from renewable materials. Examples of this include bamboo, organic cotton, hemp or wool. The same thing holds true to your furniture and fixtures. For instance, opt to get an eco-friendly mattress, which is biodegradable, instead of the conventional mattresses made of synthetic materials. If you're buying a new RV then 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.

10. Adjust your Thermostat

Adjust your thermostat one degree higher in the summer and one degree cooler in the winter. Each degree 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.

11. Leave No Trace

Follow the Leave No Trace 7 Principles and 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.

12. 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.If you RV full time, consider seasonal stops instead of week or overnight stops. 

Of course, there are a lot more different ways on how you can go RVing the eco-friendly way. It's true that the effort of one RVer alone can barely make a difference, but if more RVers make their own contribution, it can only encourage others to also do the same and then these eco-friendly tips can definitely help the environment. 

Leave a comment if you have discovered other ways to "save the planet."

Teri Blaschke is the RV Park operator of family owned HiddenValley RV Park in San Antonio, TX and writer of the park blog “A Little Piece of Country in San Antonio.” Teri contributes to various other blogs with a focus on either travel or social media and how it relates to the outdoor hospitality industry but her passion is serving the RV travel community by providing a memorable RV camping experience and growing the Hidden Valley RV family.  Connect with , Facebook and Twitter@HiddenValleyRV

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