11 tips to Reduce Campervan Waste

An easy to follow guide to make your holiday more environmentally friendly

It is a magical experience to hit the road in a campervan as you get the most out of your travel experience in a campervan. With the worth it inclusions in a campervan, you have everything you need and it's almost like you are living in a van and spending time under the stars as you move from one destination to another leaving footprints. Travelers have the expectations that the travel destinations will have positive impacts for the rest of their lives and it is important to ensure that you also leave a positive impact in the wonderful places visited. You may scratch your head thinking how to make a positive impact but there below are some tips that we have put together to help you travel mindfully and reduce waste on your road trip.

First tip is hiring an electric campervan. If you do not own an electric campervan, renting one is perfect decision. You get to charge the electric van which is cheaper than filling a combustion engine with petrol or diesel. You are more likely to get permission from local councils to park overnight in some areas as you will not be polluting the environment. However, pay attention before taking up a parking space for your motorhome if you do not wish to be woken up by the police flashlight.

1. Opt For Reusable Products to Reduce Plastic Waste

reduce campervan waste

To reduce plastic waste during your road trip, consider options that are long lasting and purchase items that are re-usable. Most travellers are aware of the low-waste camping concept but the trick is in remembering to carry the much needed items and planning ahead. For example, you can carry your own water bottles, coffee cups and Tupperware instead of packing single-use plastic cups and plates which you will most probably leave as litter or in garbage bins. You will enjoy your road trip even better if you have plenty of stops to stretch your feet. You may also get establishments who give discounts to travelers who bring their own mugs.

Other items that are forgotten but are vital during travels are the silicone sandwich bags that are used to store left over food in the fridge, freeze sauces and chopped up fruits. Good thing is they take little space in your fridge. Consider using beeswax wraps to wrap your food and keep it fresh.

When it comes to ice, consider making your own ice blocks at home and storing the ice blocks in ice trays, Tupperware containers or ice cream tubs instead of purchasing ice in plastic bags. This will come in handy as the ice block can be reused as you freeze other drinks especially during summer.

2. Use Rags Instead Of Paper Towels And Wipes

Consider packing napkins and rags which you can use to do your cleaning, dish clothes for  cleaning and drying your dishes, drying your hands instead of having single-use paper products and wipes that are bad for the planet. Carry towels or the rags and cloths in your home and use them as you wish. You just need to rinse them with hot water, wash and hang them on the line to dry. Take advantage of free energy from the wind and the sun to dry your clothes in a temporary clothes line instead of using dryers which may consume more energy. In addition, consider using biodegradable, environmentally friendly cleaning products and supplies. You can still maintain cleanliness while camping  without causing harm to the environment by using the plant based and non-harmful products.

3. Waste Collection

You can use the non-recyclable and non-reusable food packaging to collect your waste instead of using plastic bags. Consider re-using the cereal or chip bags you already have instead of purchasing more plastic bags. Always pack extra garbage bags and if possible, you can always find out the type of waste management options available in the places you are visiting since planning for a waste free camping should be done before traveling starts. If you are able to get a Bokashi bin on your campervan to collect food waste, then get one. This is because they use anaerobic composting method to break down the organic waste matter once sealed hence no unpleasant smells in your campervan.

slow campervan speed

4. Slow Travel

For a long time, most travellers wanted to just tick as many boxes as they could in their travel bucket list. This was made possible by the availability of affordable airlines as well as social media influencers on Instagram who made it seem like seeing as much as possible of the world was easy. With this kind of travel mindset, you do not get to experience your destination fully as you may miss out on some beautiful gems and you also use more emissions as you travel every now and then from one place to another.

Perks of staying in one place for longer during your travel is that you use less fuel and you get to connect in a deep, magnificent and genuine manner with the people and environment and promote sustainability. You can enjoy a day trip using hired bikes or choose a travel destination with a variety of activities which you can take part in so you are not stuck in one place.

During your campervan trips, you are more likely to make friends from fellow travellers and even take part in environmental friendly activities such as making environmentally friendly soaps and campervan clean up exercises all by allowing yourself to enjoy slow travel.

With slow travel, you park up your campervan hire Ireland, enjoy the unique chance to learn new things and affect the climate less. Literally speaking, drive steady without constantly braking and be brake aware which will help you burn less fuel and save money. Also, do not put a time to a location. You do not have to time how long it takes you to get from one point to another. By doing this, you will not enjoy the scenery along the way as your mind will be focused on arriving not at enjoying the trip.

5. Eliminate Single-Use Items

Plastic water bottles contribute to a large percentage of litter during camping and even in our day to day lives. Our oceans and waterbodies are polluted by plastic bottles which can be avoided if we choose to use reusable water bottles. It's time we embrace reusable water bottles and stay away from plastic water bottles.

Again, plastic water bottles will take too much space but a large re-usable water bottle with a water filter comes in handy as an easy and efficient option. In case it is depleted, you can always refill instead of buying water in plastic water bottles every time. These single-use items such as disposable cups, Ziploc bags plates and other plastic utensils make a large percentage of plastic and residual waste if used despite them being convenient for use.

The more members in your camping group, the larger the water container you will need. A 7 gallon jug or a 5 liters water container can be refilled from water sources nearby if you are camping for many days. Do not forget to filter your water using water filters or water purification tablets to ensure the water is safe for drinking, washing your fruits or even cooking at the campsite. It is important to find out if the water is drinkable in the area you are going so that you can plan your options carefully before leaving. If need arises to buy something to drink, always buy drinks in glass or tin bottles as these can be recycled.  Towns like Westport or Lahinch that are popular with Irish visitors will let you top up!

recharge motorhome batteries

6. Carry Rechargeable Devices

Flashlights, lanterns, solar lights, headlamps and speakers are some of the must carry along with you for most campers. Previously, buying batteries for these items was a must do before the event but not anymore as we have rechargeable options out here. Rechargeable options are environment friendly compared to one time use batteries which if not properly disposed can be hazardous to the environment.

In California, you have to dispose the single use batteries at specific hazardous waste sites and it is illegal to throw them in the trash. It's advisable to purchase headlamps, lanterns or flashlights which have rechargeable batteries and are energy efficient to last longer or look for solar powered alternatives that can reduce your electricity usage. With the advancement in technology, you are most likely to find an alternative charging option for your devices.

You do not want to start up your car just to charge your camera while you could use alternative solar power. Technology has made it possible to have large portable solar panels that can charge bigger batteries hence no need to keep draining electricity.

7. Switch It Off

When not using electricity in the campervan, always switch it off. Solar-powered chargers are the best options for your everyday use devices especially during the sunny days even in situations where you are connected to the electricity grid with full time access to electricity. You may be too used to having constant access to electricity but being mindful of the energy you are consuming is important. To save electrical cost and maintain your devices health, only charge them when they are almost discharged and do not leave them plugged in overnight or for long periods.

We recommend choosing campervans with solar panels or consider adding solar panels to your campervan. You can add solar powered lights around your campervans exterior which can be used in place of your exterior lights. You can always park your vehicle in a way that allows sunlight to shine in through the windows which heats the camper van and leaves it feeling warm and cozy when the sun goes down. Powering LED bulbs using solar panel can help cut electricity costs as they use less energy and last longer compared to filament bulbs which do not last long.

It is important to note that even when your device is not plugged in, it uses energy since everything you do is powered by some infrastructure. That is why we recommend you switch off your device during your holiday and enjoy the serenity that comes with digital detox while saving energy. You may need your smartphone to view directions from the maps, take photos or book hotels but you can always set aside some time away from your phone to read a book, have a quiet drink, go for a walk as you relax or even go for hiking.

8. Pack And Travel Light

There are many factors that will determine the size of luggage you will carry in your campervan. If you pack light, then your campervan will use less fuel due to the less weight its carrying. This is beneficial to you as a traveller since you get to save fuel money and burning less fuel is better for the environment. In as much as packing light is the goal, be mindful of the activities, location and the weather condition you will be camping in. This way you will carry the appropriate kind of attire if going for a hike or kayaking.  

Another super important tip when purchasing clothes for your camping trip is to ensure you buy the right material and quality. You need to get clothes that do not require washing every now and then but can be cleaned by just wiping. As for quality, you need clothes that can withstand the camping topography and do not tear easily. This way you can comfortably go through the days activities such as mountain climbing and hiking without worrying if the material is ruined. Perks of planning your camping outfits earlier is that you will have less clothes to clean when you return from the trip.

Lastly, shopping consciously is a skill you need to master when planning your camping trip. Having a list of the necessary items to avoid last minute panic buying. When consciously shopping, you are able to make purchases on things you can still use in your home even after the camping holidays are over. If you do last minute buying, you may be tempted to buy an item just for the occasion, you end up purchasing a low quality item because you will use it just for a short time while in the real sense you could buy a high quality version of the item which will serve you longer.

Always carry your own shopping bag to avoid taking one from the store as you increase the demand for plastic bags. Avoid using plastic wrappers for the souvenirs you buy along the way.

food preperation campervan

9. Food Preparation to Avoid Food Waste

Campervans  come fitted with  easy to use kitchen containing gas cooktop, sink, fridge and a freezer. These amenities are important as you reduce eating out and having takeaways which adds to your expenses compared to preparing your own meals. It is important to plan accordingly when buying ingredients and making meals to avoid food waste. Also, consider making meals that require less effort to make while you are on the road. You can chop or slice your ingredients beforehand so that they are always ready and you have less cooking utensils. When purchasing fruits and vegetables for your trip, buy them close to the day you will be leaving so they can stay fresh for longer and until you have identified the best spot to buy your next fresh foods.

As for your fridge, choose silicone bags as your storage method to save on space over large Tupperware. To ensure you are having fresh food, always do some research in your camping destination on the food that is in season so you can work your meals around that whenever necessary.

When it comes to snacks, we advise that you pack along your favourite snacks. When hunger hits you on the road, you can much away on your snacks instead of making stops to shop which ends up with you having additional expenses in your camping budget. Storing leftover food here is easy as it means you have a tasty snack ready to go.

When it comes to drinks, you can always opt for drinks that are sustainable and help you save money. For example make use of biodegradable tea bags which do not have any plastic.

Make use of watertight containers when transporting your food. This ensures that your food remains fresh even as the ice melts. Do not forget to pack reusable containers and vessels as you can pack left over foods and pour your liquids respectively.

Some time, you may still want to eat out. Choosing local establishments over large chain restaurants to avoid making wasteful payments for the all-you-can-eat buffets is a wise choice. The large chain restaurants will encourage you to eat more than necessary which is not safe for your health. They also throw away any food left over. There will be plenty of shops on your travel to help you get creative with your leftovers like in Newry or Macroom.

10. Waste Management

It is important to separate your recycling and compost waste as this has a huge impact to the environment. Avoid leaving litter in your camp site by carrying a trash bag where you throw recyclable items. About 75% of waste material is recyclable but only 30% of the waste is recycled as per the required standards. Find out if your camping site has put in the proper separate waste management measures and if none, you can always carry your recycling trash bag home where you can recycle it as required.

As for compost waste, it is a good idea to use a seal tight container so you won't have odour from the container until you get back home. This will ensure that the biodegradable waste does not go to the landfill bin and release greenhouse gases. Do not throw it in the bushes as well as it can harm animals who may consume it. It is important to note that all states have recycling rules and as you go through states, read the rules to void going against them.

You can make enquiries about disposal points in the locations you visit so that you can empty your campervan trash and avoid unpleasant smells and accumulating rubbish which may take up space in your van. If you arrange the sorting bins in your campervan well, then you will have an easier time taking the trash out when you come across the waste management containers on your way.

As a camper, always ensure you leave the site you make your stop better than you found it by leaving the place tidy.

11.Waste Water and Your Campervan Waste Tank

Managing your water usage is a must for the eco-conscious traveller. Once you have filled your campervan with fresh water using whatever hose pipe is suitable you are now ready to go. Racking up more and more water waste on the road is very easily done - especially when you can keep your water tank topped up and have an easy way to empty your grey water tank. Waste water is just exactly that - waste. The loss often you fill up your campervan waste tank, the less often you have to empty it which is always a bonus.