Ah summer. I have such a love hate relationship with summer. I am NOT one for heat, bugs or sun burns. Nope. What I love about summer is vacations and fresh produce. Yes. That's all it boils down to. We have been gone more than we have been home this summer, exploring and finding new things to love together.
That being said, my husband finally convinced me to take the dive into an RV. One we can take places and not be shy about. It's been a whirlwind ride but it's here. It's gorgeous. We love it.
As with any other big change in life, I was researching and found that for some reason or another, zero waste and camping in general hasn't really gone hand in hand. Honestly, I find that so odd. It's about as eco-friendly as you can get, camping wise, which we love. Plus, it makes things a million times easier.
So, in honor of plastic free July, here we go! A bunch of tips on how to go waste free or at least, help you have less waste when you camp out this summer!
1) Refrigerator. That means we can store things just as we do in the home! No one time use plastics, no need for a plastic or styrofoam cooler. Just, simple! You don't even need an RV, try finding a small, compact size refrigerator. The newer the better, as many new ones are eco-friendly and lots of people sell them used. Many camp sites have electricity and it would be possible to use solar (if your pulling enough watts for a fridge that is! Always check.). It's an investment, one that with care, can last you years. Yes, it uses electricity but it also means no plastic ice bags, no plastic coolers and works so well especially for longer stays.
2) Solar. We use solar power for all the things, from big things to electronics. We plan to expand futher as we go but solar can make a huge difference. Even something as small as a solar charger can help! The only thing wrong with starting small is thinking that small change won't help. It does, much more than you think. These small ones are usually cased in plastic so look for rugged and good reviews so you don't accidentally create plastic waste. In this case, I truly believe you get what you pay for.
3) Cleaning. I use the same things as I would at home! Cotton dish cloths, homemade cleaner and homemade soaps. Easy. One time use wipes are easy but so is tossing a thin, .10 cent wash rag in the laundry. Takes just as much time and barely makes even a dent in laundry. Just skip the paper towels. You can go even cheaper and cut up an old towel! Boom, saving money and the world, you Earth Campion, you!
4) Buying used. This, I believe, works for EVERYTHING of good quality. I won't buy a new car because the value drops as soon as you take it off the lot. Not to mention, it's cheaper a few years older. Really, if some thing new strikes your fancy, get it. It's an investment but used works just as well, in my experience. Our RV is not brand new (2016 model) but not old enough to need tons of work, which is just what we needed to get our feet wet in the RV world. We would love to convert a bus later but that is big $$ and time. We decided on a gently, very gently used rig and we reused it instead of it becoming wasted or creating new waste. Even if you choose the tent life, used if you can find it used. If it's used and not worn to s&$t, it's probably great and reliable! Just my opinion. Of course, be careful buying used. Some people don't have respect for things. Make sure it's CLEAN and in use BEFORE you buy it. If it's gross and/or can not be proven it works 100%, hard pass. That's a lot of abuse on something already. Someone will want it, that someone doesn't have to be you. Go for a good, reliable item you can use for years, not something you have to toss because it didn't hold up. Buying broken or abused things won't last as long, will take resources to fix more often due to the wear and tear time takes on things and will become Waste sooner than later.
5) Make and prep meals ahead of time. I have all things marinating, precut... you name it. In reusable, zero waste containers. This is such a life saver for the Smart Pants fam. Saves crazy money, we have already saved well over the investment in containers and it's so nice to have it all DONE before the hustle and bustle of things. Worth. It.
Takes a five whole minutes to wash out!
6) Bring your own homemade creations. From fire starters to bug sprays. I have watched families carry bag after plastic bag of of their vehicles full of plastic bottles... that they just later toss. How disappointing. If you don't want to DIY anything (I'll gladly post some of my DIY recipes if you are interested!), there are plenty of Etsy shop owners that will gladly work with you to create zero waste products. More than likely at an extra charge if they don't already have them in zero waste containers but it's worth it to find a seller that will help you reach your goals! Just be kind and accept those who don't have the time or want to create custom items.
7) Ditch the plastic utensils! It's really not hard to rinse off and go again. Just stop. Same with cups. It's such a huge waste and those things will outlive us. That's a creepy thought, isn't it?
8) Prepare for everything. I know, that sounds a bit over board but the more you prepare, the better. If you stay organized and prepared, you are less likely to grab a one-time-use plastic item or shop where things you need are wrapped in plastic. Have all your items from blankets for the chilled nights by the camp fire to swim gear ready to go.
9) Composting Toilets. This is something we are just warming up to the idea of but it seems like a grand investment. Not everyone is comfortable with it until they research how waste is treated and the resources used... not to mention our own drinking water. Composting toilets can range from expensive contraptions to simple, homemade devices. Do your due diligence and check your area that you are in for regulations and of course, the idea in general.
10) Wrap and secure glassware in extra blankets and/fabric items BEFORE you travel. This will save those precious jars!
There you have it! It's really simple to help our planet and save yourselves some cash, even when you are on the road. Just takes a bit of prep, organization and motivation! No one is perfect at zero waste, no one. We all make mistakes. The best part about mistakes is the ability to learn from them. All the time! And always strive to do better!
The Smart Girl in Pants
The Smart Girl in Pants