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Is RV Travel Ever Sustainable?

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Travel poses a particular struggle for those concerned about the environment. You can drive a hybrid car to many vacation destinations, but hotels get expensive and driving takes quite a while. Flying has a huge carbon footprint but it saves the most time and many airlines today allow you to purchase carbon offsets. But if your family has an old Winnebago or a shiny new RV that you’re excited to take on long road trips, you may be wondering – what about RVs? Is RV travel sustainable?

The Green RV Concept

At first glance, the idea of a green or environmentally friendly RV sounds a bit unbelievable. How could driving a big vehicle full of stuff be a sustainable travel option?


Some new RVs do earn their stripes as sustainable travel options. Lighter, made from sustainable materials, and featuring tinted windows that block light, thereby cutting air conditioner use, green RVs are a new development.

Still, even green RVs need to run on something, and while they’re more energy efficient, it will take time to get a clear read on how eco-friendly these vehicles really are. They’re a big improvement over older models, but don’t jump to replace yours just yet – that will generate unnecessary waste. Better to weigh the continued use of your old vehicle before buying a new one.

Did You Know: Diesel Exhaust Fluid

Another factor making RVs more eco-friendly these days is the use of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) to neutralize exhaust, transforming it from toxic fumes to water and nitrogen. DEF has caught the attention of the RV world largely due to its compelling name. Though only sometimes made from animal byproducts, DEF is often referred to colloquially as pig urine, as pig, cow, and horse urine are all potential sources of the substance when diluted with water.


While DEF won’t reduce your dependence on gas, it does reduce some of the harmful effects of using fossil fuels. New users need to be careful, however, as it’s dangerous to mix DEF with gasoline – it can ruin your engine by turning into something similar to concrete.

The majority of older RVs don’t have DEF tanks, but for those who have them, RV use can be made more eco-friendly by keeping that second tank full.

Lessons From RV Residents

For some people, RVs don’t just provide a fun – and maybe eco-friendly – means of vacationing; some people live in their RVs. While RV living is obviously different from the casual summer traveling that most use their RVs for, we can learn a lot from those who have trimmed their life down to just the bare essentials.

Seasoned RV residents offer important reminders, such as to resist the temptation to use single-use plates, forks, and the like. Because washing dishes is harder in an RV setting, it can be tempting to grab these disposables, but this is an easy way to squash your environmentally friendly goals. Accept the challenge and use real dishes while traveling.

If you’ll be traveling for a while, you might also consider buying small, portable appliances, such as a super compact washing machine. These machines are much more energy efficient than laundromat machines and are far more convenient when on the road. You’ll be happy not to have to trek to the laundromat on Saturday mornings during your vacation, too.

The jury is still out on how environmentally friendly RV travel is, but as with most things, RV travel is what you make of it. If you choose eco-friendly options, assiduously recycling, shopping local, and using a DEF tank, for example, you may be among the most environmentally responsible travelers out there. Take on the challenge – you’ll be glad you did.

 

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.

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Want to Connect With Nature? Start by Disconnecting From Busyness

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Connect With Nature

Have you ever found yourself staring at one of your (many) devices and feeling slightly disgusted with how much time you waste on technology? If so, you aren’t alone. We all have moments like these and it’s important that we use them as motivation to change – especially if we want to be more connected with nature.

How Busyness Impacts Your Connection With Nature

Whether you realize it or not, you live an ultra connected life. Between smart phones, tablets, computers, and wearable devices, you’re never very far from some sort of technology that can connect you to the internet or put you in touch with other people. That’s just the world we live in.


While it could be argued that this sort of omnipresent connectivity is a positive thing, it’s also pretty clear that being permanently tethered to technology impacts our ability to strip away distractions and connect with nature.

When you’re always within arm’s reach of a device, you feel a sense of busyness.  Whether it’s browsing your social media feed, uploading a picture, reading the news, or responding to an email, there’s always something to do. As someone who wants to spend more time in nature, this is problematic.

4 Practical Ways to Disconnect

If you want to truly connect with nature and live a greener lifestyle, you have to be proactive about finding ways to disconnect. Here are a few practical suggestions:

1. Switch to a New Phone Plan

It’s not always practical to totally unplug from the world. Family and work responsibilities mean you can’t go off the grid and continue to fulfill your responsibilities. Having said that, there are some ways to scale back.


One suggestion is to switch to a prepaid phone plan. When you have a prepaid phone plan, you’re far less likely to spend hours and hours of your time making phone calls, sending texts, and surfing the web. It forces you to be more conscious of what you’re doing.

2. Get Rid of Social Media

Social media is one of the biggest time wasters for most people. Whether you realize it or not, it’s also a huge stressor. You’re constantly being exposed to the best snapshots of everyone else’s lives, which makes you feel like you’re missing out on something (even when you aren’t).

If you want to feel a sense of relief and free yourself up to spend more time in nature, get rid of social media. Don’t just delete the apps off your phone – actually disable your accounts. It’s a bold, yet necessary step.

3. Create Quiet Hours

If you aren’t able to get rid of social media and disable various online accounts, the next best thing you can do is establish quiet hours each day where you totally detach from technology. You should do this for a minimum of three hours per day for best results.

4. Build Community

Do you know why we’re drawn to social media and our devices? Whether consciously or subconsciously, it’s because we all want to be connected to other people. But do you know what’s better than connecting with people online? Connecting with them in person.

As you build real life, person-to-person relationships, you’ll feel less of a need to constantly have your eyes glued to a screen. Connect with other people who have an appreciation for nature and bond over your mutual interests.

Untether Your Life

If you find yourself constantly connected to a device, then this is probably a clear indicator that you aren’t living your best life. You certainly aren’t enjoying any sort of meaningful connection with nature. Now’s as good a time as any to untether your life and explore what a world free from cords, screens, and batteries is really like.

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6 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Move

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Moving can be a stressful and challenging time. No matter how many times you’ve done it in the past, the process of packing up, transporting, and unpacking isn’t very fun. It’s also not very eco-friendly. As you prepare for your next move, there are things you can do to ensure you leave less of a footprint behind.

6 Tips for a Greener Move

Because of the stress and pressure felt when moving, it’s pretty common for people to rush through the process and focus on getting it done. In fact, a lot of people take an “at all costs” approach; they’ll do whatever it takes to make the process as cheap and fast as possible. Don’t be one of those people. It doesn’t take much effort to turn a standard move into an eco-friendly move.


1. Maximize Each Trip

When moving across town, it’s imperative that you make as few trips as possible. Each trip requires more gas, more emissions, and more waste, and more time.

If you’re taking your personal vehicle, consider pulling a trailer behind it. You’d be surprised how much stuff you can fit into a small trailer. Not only will it make your move greener, but it’ll also save you a lot of time.

2. Donate Things You Don’t Want to Keep

The longer you live somewhere, the more junk you accumulate. This isn’t always obvious until you start packing for a big move. Instead of bringing all of these things with you to your next home, get rid of the stuff you don’t need! If the items are useful, donate them. If the items don’t have much value, toss them.

3. Reuse Moving Boxes

Not only are moving boxes expensive, but they’re also wasteful. If you need a bunch of cardboard boxes, consider looking around on Craigslist, asking friends, or checking the dumpsters behind stores. You can usually find a bunch of recycled boxes of all different shapes and sizes. Here are 12 places you can get them for free.


4. Get Creative With Packing

Who says you need moving boxes? You may find that it’s possible to do most of your move without all that cardboard. Things like storage containers, trashcans, filing cabinets, buckets, and dressers can all store items. Blankets and sheets can be used in lieu of bubble wrap to prevent your items from getting damaged.

5. Use Green Cleaning Supplies

Once you arrive at your new place, resist the urge to pull out a bunch of harsh chemicals to clean the place. You can do yourself (and the planet) a favor by using green cleaning supplies instead. Ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and ammonia are great to start with.

6. Forward Your Mail ASAP

Don’t delay in forwarding your mail from your previous address to your new one. Not only is it wasteful for the Postal Service to route your mail to a place where you don’t live, but the next owner is probably just going to toss your letters in the trash.

Moving Doesn’t Have to be Wasteful

Most people only move once every few years. Some people will go a decade or more without a move. As a result, the process of moving often feels strange and new. The less experience you have with it, the less likely it is that you’ll be as efficient as you should. But instead of just diving into the process blind, take some time to learn about what an eco-friendly move looks like. That way, you can leave behind the smallest footprint possible.

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