By Andrew Robinson
To some people the image of the RV is that of a large, gas-guzzling, pollution-spewing beast full of ugly, inconsiderate tourists. I’m not saying it’s the most eco-friendly activity out there (I think walking or biking takes that blue ribbon), but I can sit here and claim that RVing is actually a very eco-conscious activity.
Here’s what I think: RVing makes you very aware of the resources you need, use, and dispose of. It’s all right there — no escaping it. Especially when full-time RVing and boondocking (aka dry camping), where every bit of waste you produce you have to deal with yourself.
Not only that but while living in an RV, whether it be a full-sized motor home, mini-motor home, trailer, camper, etc., you also USE fewer resources. It’s a small space — it simply doesn’t take long to heat it up. You get the picture.
Living in our homes we are pretty oblivious as to where that water goes when it disappears down the sink or toilet. We don’t think about how much water we’re using to wash the dishes or brush our teeth or flush the toilet. When we flip on a light switch there’s very little to worry about other than the electricity bill at the end of the month.
In an RV you have to fill up your own water tank. You are very aware of how much that water weighs as you roll down the road. You know you only have so much you can use — and so you do so sparingly. And when it goes down the drain you have to dump it, eventually, at a dump station. Once again, you find yourself creating as little gray water as you can. When you flip on that light switch you know you only have as much power as your 12-volt battery can hold and that you’ll have to get several hours of sunshine on your solar panels to recharge it again so you become ever so conscious of how much power you use.
You find yourself inventing ways to deal with these things. Things you don’t give a second thought to when you’re in your house.
Here are some great suggestions, both for conserving resources and reducing the waste you create, in your RV or at home:
- Use two spray bottles for washing your dishes. One with a little bit of biodegradable soap and water and the other with plain, clean water. Scrape off the dishes as best you can, then spray with the soapy bottle. Wipe with a dishtowel. Spray with the clean water bottle to rinse. You’ve just used a fraction of the water you’d usually use, and most of it has evaporated away so no gray water to dispose of.
- You can use the same method above for sponge bathing.
- To cool yourself in a hot, dry climate, dip towels in water and hang them in front of open windows. Open up your roof vents, and if you have a fan on one, turn it on high. This sucks air from outside the windows through the cool, wet towels, and into the RV. It’s a hillbilly swamp cooler really. And if you’re using the fan it will still use a lot less power than, say, an air conditioner would.
- Dry food scraps in a mesh bag, like an onion bag, by hanging it outside your rig in the sunshine. In nice warm climates this can cut your trash weight and space tremendously.
- Use battery-powered appliances. Then you can get a solar-powered battery charger and swap out the batteries as needed. I keep my charger in on the dashboard, so even when I’m driving, the batteries are getting charged.
So there you go! By having to take care of these things yourself and having less space to have to heat/cool/clean, being in an RV can be a very eco-conscious way to go.
Do you have more ideas for reducing your resource usage and waste creation? Share them in the comments below! We’d love to hear.