Let’s face it, RVs can be pretty rough on the environment. They’re big, they gobble fossil fuels, emit noxious fumes, and carry black and gray water that can harm soil and wildlife if dumped anywhere but a designated dump station. And then there are the loud, obnoxious generators that many RVers fire up at campsites, ruining the outdoor experience for car and tent campers. But did you know there are many choices RV lovers can make to minimize their rig’s carbon footprint? 

Here are some of our favorite ideas for creating a more eco-friendly RV lifestyle:

Ditch the disposable tableware

We know that doing the dishes is even less fun in an RV than at home. But disposable plates and flatware are just not good for the environment. Remember that the dishes and flatware listed as “compostable” are only compostable if you take them to a composting facility — otherwise, they wind up in landfills with the rest of the garbage. That’s why lightweight, reusable tableware is the way to go. You can make dishwashing easier with a foot pedal or touch faucet installed at your RV sink, and they’ll help minimize excess water usage so your fresh water tank doesn’t run dry. Another big help: An Instant Pot is a great item for RV meals and allows for one-pot dinners and lunches, meaning far less mess to clean up.


Go Solar


Unlike a house, an RV can chase the best sun, making RV solar panels on the roof a very smart choice indeed. Fossil fuels like propane, gasoline, and diesel aren’t doing our planet any favors, and RVs can consume those fuels quickly, in staggering amounts. Give your wallet and the earth a break by letting the sun provide energy to your rig. With solar panels converting sun to electricity, you can replace your RV range and/or oven with an electric toaster oven and an induction cooktop. Another possibility with solar panels on your vehicle: Dump the propane water heater and opt for an electric mini water heater tank.


Boondock gently


Sure, you can go off the grid with your RV, but make sure you plan to keep any natural area you’re visiting pristine. Your rig is mighty heavy. It can destroy the soil and plant life and leave unsightly grooved tracks, especially if the ground is wet or damp. It’s best to avoid off-road RV travel whenever possible. If you must, be sure to leave no trace and pack up all trash and recycling when you leave.

Conserve water 


Conserving water is critical in an RV, so your entire crew should know the rules. Showers should be speedy. Use the water to lather up, then turn it off while you wash. Turn the water back on just to rinse. Be smart about washing dishes, too: Use the bare minimum and turn off the water while scrubbing trickier messes. 


Travel light


It’s simple: The heavier the rig, the more fuel you’ll use. Don’t overpack just because you have space. One smart exception? Bring a bike or two for daytime exploring or running short errands at the campsite. There’s no better way to reduce your carbon footprint than to leave the RV at the site and set out on bikes for some fun.


See if biodiesel is an option


If your RV runs on diesel, you might be able to use a mix of diesel and bio-diesel, a blend of diesel and plant oils like soybean. Some gas stations even sell biodiesel at the pump. Be sure to check with your RV manufacturer to see if this option is compatible with your rig. 


Shop local as you go


While on the road, have reusable shopping totes handy and watch for farmers’ markets and roadside fruit and vegetable sellers. By purchasing directly from growers, you get top-quality fresh food and limit packaging and shipping costs. Not to mention local, in-season produce and farm treats like honey and jam just taste better!

Always recycle 


Recycling doesn’t go on vacation just because you do. Be sure to wash recyclables and create a smart storage system for them on board between trips to a recycling bin.


Be sun-smart

Your RV furnace and A/C use a lot of propane and electricity to maintain climate comfort, so minimizing their usage will help conserve a lot of energy. Just parking with your largest windows facing north in warm weather will go a long way to keep your rig cool. Insulate south-facing windows with reflective products such as Reflectix in the summer, and open up windows that are in the shade. Small fans will also keep your RV air fresh and flowing. You might also consider installing a pull-out awning for the side of your RV. These are priceless when it comes to camping in sunny locales with very little natural shade. Traveling in winter? Point those windows south to keep things toasty inside. 


Dump stations only


There’s never any reason to dump your gray or black tanks anywhere but a dump station. In fact, you’re breaking the law if you do dump your black tank anywhere else. Water from the kitchen sink is also classified as black water in some states, as cooking oil and kitchen peelings and scraps can lure wildlife. Cleaning product chemicals can devastate the ground, and toiletry product residue in bathroom sink water can ruin healthy pH soil levels and make its way into lakes, bays, and rivers, where it harms the ecosystem and threatens wildlife. Not sure where the nearest dump station is? Sites like rvdumps.com have got your back.


Clean your tanks with enzyme-based cleaners


Enzyme-based tank cleaners like this one are a great choice. They’re non-toxic and don’t harm the environment like chemical-based cleaners do. Plus, the enzymes are far superior at breaking down organic material efficiently.


Unplug phantom loads


Be sure to unplug items on board that might be drawing electricity even when off.


Consider RV-friendly toilet paper


There’s a great debate among RVers: regular toilet paper or fast-dissolving TP made for campers and RVs? Regular toilet paper works fine in most RVs, but if you’ve got a temperamental toilet in your rig, fast-dissolving TP might be a smart move. Be warned, though: The fast-dissolving stuff is not as strong as the normal kind and can break down a little too quickly in your hand (yuck!).


Buy secondhand gear 


Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and eBay are all great places to source gently used RV gear like appliances, cushions, shelving, storage, and more. Buying used gear saves cash and goes a long way toward lessening your carbon footprint.


Keep your RV serviced


Be sure your RV is always up to date on service, from tire inspections and battery checks to oil and air filter changes. Your RV will always be the most energy-efficient if it’s in top shape. Tire pressure is especially important, as low-pressure tires waste valuable fuel. Make it a habit to check them often.


Stay at 55 mph


Go easy on the gas pedal. RVs will guzzle fuel, so stick to 55 mph on highways. That’s an optimal highway speed for RVs in terms of gas mileage, and you’ll also be able to appreciate more of the scenery.


Get More Eco-Friendly RV Lifestyle Tips From Experts in Colorado


Colorado is an environmentally conscious state full of outdoor lovers! It is the perfect destination for out-of-state or local travelers looking to immerse themselves in the beauty of their surroundings. If you’d like to spend more time enjoying nature in your RV and less time worrying about the carbon footprint of your RV travels, follow this guide. When you’re ready to take a rest from the road, Castle RV is the place for your rig. Our RV and boat storage options take the guesswork out of storage. 


Visit the Castle RV Storage blog to learn more and browse all the best Colorado camping, travel, and RVing tips. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay connected and share our love of the RV Travel Life!