What Is Eco-Friendly RVing?
We’ve all had the couple in a Subaru give us dirty looks when they pass us on the highway. Despite what they thought when they looked at our rig, eco-friendly RVing isn’t an oxymoron.
Granted, RVs generally have relatively poor fuel economy due to their size and weight. But think about the fact that for some of us, we’ve packed our whole lives into around 21 feet of space.
Tiny houses might be the pinnacle of eco-friendly living, but with some planning and smart choices, your RV is a close second.
In our series on eco-friendly RV travel, we’re exploring the concepts and practical applications that make it all possible.
Grab a kombucha and settle in!
Understanding Eco-Friendly RV Travel
It’s easy to focus on the negative attitudes of non-RV travelers. Instead, we’re going with positive vibes only! Leaving your home behind for a life on the road is one way to reduce your carbon footprint.
Without the infrastructure of a brick-and-mortar home, you’re already consuming less energy and resources.
Looking around, it’s hard to ignore the impacts of global climate change on the spaces we love the most. We want to preserve these spaces for as long as possible, so we practice eco-friendly RVing.
As much as possible, we upcycle and live simply. Purchasing a Class C or Class B rig secondhand can save money and comes with a few other benefits.
Used RVs have long had all their little imperfections shaken out from the factory. You’ll also hold onto the value of your rig since the initial big depreciation hit has already taken place.
Principles of sustainable living translate easily into RV travel due to the smaller footprint. You’ll have to pack light, bring or own just what you need and focus on requirements over wants.
The Environmental Benefits of Eco-Friendly RVing
A study by PKF Consulting found that a family of four on vacation in an RV was surprisingly sustainable.
On average, they generated less carbon dioxide than any other method of motorized travel.
Instead of booking a flight and heading to Cancun, take your RV to Yosemite and protect the planet.
RVers are also much more aware of their consumption of other resources.
Having to pack out trash and black water gives you a clear sense of how much waste you generate.
Reducing your vehicle’s weight makes it more fuel-efficient, so light, reusable storage solutions are a must.
And since you can only carry so much in your rig, shopping locally instead of online reduces your carbon footprint, too.
Zero-waste living is also possible in an RV.
Finally, a love of nature naturally makes you more likely to practice sustainable living when you’re not on the road!
Whether you realize it or not, things you do daily can have an outsized impact.
Key Practices of Eco-Friendly RVing
Over the years, some best practices have risen to the top of the eco-friendly RV subculture. These are things that many have tried and seen a positive impact.
Some common sense hacks make your life on the road more sustainable and, in some cases, economical.
Choose a smaller RV
It stands to reason that smaller rigs take up less resources. RVs on the smaller side are lighter and use less fuel when traveling.
Plugged in, they draw less power than luxury liners and have less space to heat and cool. Sustainable power sources like solar panels and wind turbines take you off the grid completely.
Get off the beaten path
Overtourism, when tourists love a destination to death, is a growing problem. It taxes resources around the area and can have a seriously negative impact on the environment.
By choosing less visited spots, you’ll enjoy not waiting in lines or staying in crowded campgrounds.
Local economies also feel the impact of your tourist dollars more than mega-destinations. You might even discover a new favorite place!
Check out this list of 15 Least Visited National Parks Worth a Visit!
Slow down and stay awhile
Highway travel moves fast, but you should limit your speed in your RV for the best fuel economy. Driving between 55 and 65 mph might make your driving days feel longer, but it pays off.
Good driving practices could reduce your fuel consumption by 10 to 15%.
Once you’ve found your favorite spot, stay for a while! Settling down and using your human or electrically powered transportation saves energy.
And there’s really no better way to explore than on foot or two wheels.
Conserve water and energy
Water is one of the most difficult resources to carry in our rigs, partially because it’s so heavy.
By reducing your water consumption, you can improve the efficiency of your vehicle and reduce your environmental impact.
Hot Tip – Use a wash bucket for dishes and laundry with eco-friendly cleaners and a composting toilet!
When outfitting your RV with appliances and devices, choose energy-efficient products. Unplugging devices when they’re not in use saves energy, too.
And being conscious of what you’re using is much easier if you generate your power sustainably.
Practice the 3-3-3 Rule for Eco-Friendly RVing
If you’re an experienced RVer, you probably know this rule already. When traveling, drive no more than 300 miles a day, arrive no later than 3 pm and stay 3 days at least.
Following a 65 mph fuel-efficient speed, you can travel 300 miles in around 4.5 hours non-stop (although, I would recommend rest stops). Could you go further on a travel day? Sure.
But the benefits of not spending your whole day on the road usually outweigh the extra distance.
Depending on your camping situation, getting to your destination by 3 pm gives you better access to local amenities and check-in.
Most stores and markets are still open at that time of day, so you aren’t stuck scrambling for necessities.
Staying at your site for three or more days benefits the local economy and reduces fuel costs. Furthermore, you’ll be able to enjoy connecting with neighbors.
One of our favorite things about full-time RV living is the community!
Sustainable Practices for RVing Preserve The Future
We know it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers. But with some planning, eco-friendly RVing is easy to pull off. Living small and light is one of the things we love the most about traveling.
On the road, we can go further on what we have and learn about local spots when shopping for necessities.
Even these small steps help preserve the environment for future generations. And that Subaru couple? Maybe one day they’ll come around.