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Guide to Eco-Friendly RVing

As campers, our love for the great outdoors is clear. Time spent in nature is our go-to way to relax and recharge. Hiking, kayaking, fishing and just sitting in the sunshine are our ideas of a perfect day. This, of course, shows the importance of eco-friendly RVing  

If we want to continue to be able to spend time in nature, we have to protect it. Even more importantly, we need to preserve our environment for future generations. Our great and great-great grandkids deserve the opportunity to escape to nature just like us. 

Family walking trough park. Parents carrying children on piggyback.

Importance of Eco-Friendly RVing 

Whether you’re driving through the woods in a gas-guzzling motorhome or towing your trailer behind your pickup truck, it’s clear that RVs are some of the worst vehicles for the environment. RVs suck power and pump generators all night, filling the air with electric buzzing. 

On the other hand, RVs have a smaller carbon footprint than other popular forms of travel, like planes. They’re also smaller than a traditional home, meaning they use less electricity to fully power the indoor area. 

If you’re mindful of how you camp, you can easily do your part to protect the environment. It’s possible to spend plenty of weekends in an RV while reducing your carbon footprint. To help you do your part to protect our environment for future generations, we put together this quick guide to eco-friendly RVing. 

Shop Green  

Compact RVs are lighter, burn less fuel and use less power. Overall, the smaller the RV the better it is for the environment. Camping is for spending time outside, and compact RVs force you to spend more time in the sun. If possible, choose a small camper. Even better, compact campers can be less expensive! Both in terms of original purchase price and upkeep, compact campers are the right decision economically and environmentally. 

Another eco-friendly shopping habit, even outside of RVing, is shopping second hand. It takes a lot of natural resources to manufacture and ship new RVs. Choosing used RVs, and other second-hand items, cuts back on the resources used to get your items to you, and comes at a lower price point. 

RV supplies, like cleaning and lighting, can also be more environmentally friendly. Choose LED light bulbs for more light, less energy and less heat. You should also stick to enzyme-based tank cleaners. Toxic tank cleaners can leave pollutants behind, especially in tank dumping areas. Environmentally friendly RVing even comes down to bathroom habits! Use quick-dissolve toilet paper to avoid leaving behind used materials and clogging your RV toilet. 

Finally, a switch to reusable items might be the easiest change to make in a transition to eco-friendly RVing. Use products made of bamboo and recycled materials. Skip the paper plates and plastic cutlery. You’ll save money in the long run and create a lot less waste. Purchase a reusable water bottle to take on your outings instead of constantly throwing away plastic ones. These simple switches can make a huge difference in the long run.  

Conserve Energy in Your RV 

A good way to conserve energy in an RV is through renewable energy. Many RVs come solar-ready, so consider purchasing a solar panel to connect to your camper for power. You could even consider wind turbines, although solar is usually more efficient. 

Man washes the solar panels on the roof of his RV.

Another great way to conserve energy is to park in the shade. Without the sun beating down and constantly heating your RV, you’ll use less energy trying to keep cool. Similarly, if you’re camping in winter, park in the sun for some natural heat instead of relying only on the heater. 

Insulation is also important. If you have a newer RV, the floors and walls are probably already well insulated. For older RV owners, insulation might need to be added. Use double-glazed windows and heavy curtains, especially in winter, to keep the temperature inside your RV stable. Consider an RV skirt to stop winter winds from blowing cold air underneath your unit. 

A travel trailer at an empty campsite.

Always Plan Ahead 

When packing for your trip, keep it light. The less your camper weighs, the less gas it will use to get where you need to go. Packing light means clothes, but it also means any camping supplies or extras you might be tempted to bring along. Besides weighing less, this will help cut down on clutter in your RV. 

Keep your RV up-to-date on any services you might need. Replace your air filters and keep up with oil changes. Check your tire pressure before heading out on your next trip, as tire pressure affects your gas mileage. A well-maintained RV is an efficient and eco-friendly RV. 

Lastly, choose green fuel. If your motorhome runs on diesel fuel, consider mixing diesel and biodiesel. Biodiesel blends diesel fuels with natural plant oils to create an environmentally friendly mix. Do research to make sure biodiesel is appropriate for your RV, and plan ahead to find gas stations that provide it. 

Although these are just a few tips, there’s always more you can do to improve your eco-friendly RVing habits. Be conscious of your use and reduce your carbon footprint where you can. There are hundreds of ways to make small lifestyle changes that will result in large impacts.

It’s our responsibility as campers to be stewards of the environment. We want to be able to continue to rely on nature as a place of solace, and protect it so future generations can do the same. Follow our tips on environmentally friendly RVing, and do your own research, to camp with a clean conscience.

Begin Your Adventure

Ways to Cook Outside the RV Kitchen

Cook Outside: Alternatives to the RV Kitchen

It’s notoriously difficult to cook in an RV kitchen, and the popularity of tiny campers with cramped kitchen areas has only made it more unpleasant. While outside kitchens are a popular addition to many RVs, there are plenty of other ways to cook outside. Prep your meals in the outdoors with plenty of room to stretch and talk with your fellow campers with these outdoor cooking methods.

Campfire Dutch Oven

One of the most popular ways for campers to cook outside is with a Dutch oven. They’re versatile; used for baking, braising, simmering and more. Most Dutch ovens are designed to be heated from the top and bottom. This is done by placing hot coals or wood embers both below the oven and on top of the lid.

People cook outside with a Dutch oven suspended over a campfire.

They can also be hung over a campfire and heated from below. You can suspend them over the campfire with a tripod setup, place them directly on a small fire or embers, or on top of a cooking grate over the fire. Whether you use charcoal or wood embers, there are hundreds of Dutch oven recipes to try out.

In-Ground Cooking

Earth oven, ground oven, Hāngī: whatever you want to call it, in-ground cooking is a fun way to cook large meals, particularly pieces of meat, outside. Ground ovens are an ancient method used to cook outside by sealing meat and veggies in the ground over hot coals or rocks. Though this method is more work-intensive than the others, it’s definitely a fun experiment to try out on a camping trip. Especially if your Thanksgiving turkey isn’t going to fit in the tiny camper’s RV oven!

Ground ovens are constructed by digging a pit in the ground and lining it with flat rocks. Gather your kindling and light a fire over the rocks to heat them up. Once the fire has dwindled out and you have smoldering coals left behind you can clear them out and get ready to cook.

Now that your hot rocks are cleaned, you should add a layer of traditional edible foliage, or a layer of tin foil if you prefer, over the base. Add your meat and another layer of insulation, leafy or otherwise, over the top and pour a cup of water in to create steam. Place a layer of plywood, carpeting, or even traditional cowhide over everything to protect your dish from the dirt. Finally, bury the entire thing in a few inches of soil.

After three or so hours, come back to uncover a traditionally prepared meal made entirely in the earth. This is a practice-makes-perfect situation, as many of our alternative methods to cook outside are. However, this is a fun experiment to try just once or twice on your next few camping trips. 

Campfire Foil Packs

Foil pack recipes are another fun way to cook outside. Aside from being an entertaining way to cook on the campfire as a family, foil packs are particularly convenient. Most campfire foil pack recipes consist of the entire meal wrapped in one piece of foil.

Foil pack cooking is, essentially, exactly what it sounds like. Chop up your favorite veggies and a bit of meat, coat them with your favorite seasonings and wrap them up in aluminum foil. Then, place these foil packets over the campfire and wait. Soon enough you’ll have a full meal warm and ready and perfectly portioned for each camper.

A set of foil pack meals cook on a metal grate over a campfire.

Outdoor Grills

None of these more experimental methods interest you? There’s normally a grill available at the campsite or attached as part of your RV’s outdoor kitchen. Even if you don’t have a traditional grill on-hand, portable electric grills are not hard to come by.

These can simply be plugged into a power source and used to grill any dish you might have on your at-home grill. Some campers also spin-off the campfire foil packs by heating them on a grill instead. Use the same basic meal prep method of wrapping your ingredients in aluminum foil, but place the packet on the grill rather than the campfire. You’ll still come out with a perfectly prepared, pre-portioned meal for every camper.

If you choose to cook outside with one of these alternative methods, make sure to share it with us! You can find us on Facebook where you can tag us in your experimental cooking photos. We’d love to see you try these out!

Outdoor cooking not your thing? That’s no problem! We have tons of RVs for sale with beautiful, large kitchens – including islands and residential refrigerators – to choose from at Juniata Valley RV. On the other end, we have a huge inventory of tiny campers that have small cooking spaces or outdoor kitchens. Whatever you’re looking for, let our team help find the right RV for you!

Begin Your Adventure

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