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Renting out your RVs? Here’s how to keep things eco-friendly.
RVs can offer a more eco-friendly alternative to foreign vacations, cutting down on fuel-guzzling air travel and encouraging travelers to stay local. As an RV owner, you also have the ability to minimize the negative impacts of this mode of travel, creating a more eco-friendly experience for you and your customers.
As an eco-conscious business owner, the RV industry can certainly be challenging. While RVs are a popular way for your customers to travel and enjoy the great outdoors, they can also have a big impact on the environment. As climate change concerns rise, so too do concerns about our vehicles’ excess fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
The good news is that RVs can offer a more eco-friendly alternative to foreign vacations, cutting down on fuel-guzzling air travel and encouraging travelers to stay local. As an RV owner, you also have the ability to minimize the negative impacts of this mode of travel, creating a more eco-friendly experience for you and your customers.
Let’s take a closer look at how you can minimize the environmental impact of your RV fleet when you:
- Educate your customers
- Provide eco-friendly supplies
- Fit out your RVs with sustainable materials
- Reduce energy and water consumption
1. Educate your customers
Irresponsible camping can leave a trail of destruction in its wake, from plumes of exhaust fumes polluting the air to carelessly discarded plastic littering campsites. Although many of your customers will be educated and ready to respect the environment throughout their travels, some first-time renters may not be aware of camping best practices.
By educating your customers with camping tips and tricks, you’re not only providing excellent customer service, but you are also equipping them with the knowledge they need to reduce their environmental impact.
There are seven Leave No Trace principles to educate your renters about:
- Plan ahead and prepare. First-time renters may feel an impulse to pack plenty of just-in-case items and enjoy some spontaneous travel, but by planning routes and packing light they can significantly reduce their fuel consumption on the road.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces. Provide your renters with a map of appropriate trails and camping spots in your area, which will help avoid unnecessary damage to untouched areas.
- Dispose of waste properly. Include a guide to proper waste sorting, and map out local recycling centers for your customers.
- Leave what you find. Remind your customers to leave wild areas exactly as they found them.
- Minimize campfire impacts. Provide campfire guidelines including how to build them, how to put them out, and where they are not appropriate.
- Respect wildlife. Reminders to keep a safe distance, avoid nests, avoid feeding animals, and keep food stored securely will help avoid damage to the health of local wildlife.
- Be considerate of other visitors. A simple yet necessary reminder!
These tips can be incorporated into your customer’s journey through a digital guide sent via email during the booking process, a printed copy in the RV itself, or verbal communication during the inventory of fixtures.
2. Provide eco-friendly supplies
Of course, it’s important that you also equip your renters with the physical tools they need to keep their environmental impact down. Some eco-friendly essentials include:
- Non-toxic cleaning supplies – many cleaning chemicals release fumes that not only harm humans but also the flora and fauna around us. Provide your customers with cleaning supplies that are biodegradable, low-toxicity, and low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
- Waste separation bags – encourage renters to reduce and reuse where possible by providing proper waste sorting equipment. This should include clearly labeled containers for paper, plastic, glass, and metal.
- Composters – food waste is a big contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Because food bins can cause odors and attract unwanted wildlife, you may prefer to provide a compostable bag for food scraps that stays in the freezer until it can reach an appropriate composter. A worm composting bucket (vermicomposter) could also be provided to safely compost food waste on the spot.
- Alternatives to plastic – avoid disposable items that create unnecessary waste. Provide your renters with items like beeswax food wraps, silicone food storage bags, and reusable produce bags to cut back on plastics.
3. Fit out your RVs with sustainable materials
Beyond the behavior of your renters, you can also look at the build of your RVs. Whether you’re adding new features or fitting out a rig from scratch, your choice of building materials will directly impact your RV’s carbon footprint.
Natural or recycled materials have a lower carbon footprint than standard building materials, as very little energy goes into their manufacture. Another key factor is the weight of your materials, because the lighter the RV, the less fuel it will use.
Material tips for a sustainable fit-out
Areas of your RV that can be built more sustainably include:
- Joinery – choose lightweight, natural materials like birch wood, plywood, or bamboo over heavy timber or pine frames.
- Flooring – go for cork or linoleum as non-toxic, lightweight alternatives to tiles.
- Insulation – sheep wool insulation requires very little energy to manufacture, naturally absorbs harmful gases, and it’s biodegradable.
- Soft furnishings – choose lightweight foam for soft furnishings like mattresses and cushions.
- Finishes – finish your furnishings with non-toxic sealants and paints.
4. Reduce fuel, energy, and water consumption
There are some modifications you can make to your RVs to reduce their energy and water consumption in the long run. These include:
- Installing energy-efficient appliances like soft start AC units, lithium-ion batteries, and foot-powered washing machines.
- Swapping out incandescent bulbs for LED ones, which use less power and have a longer lifespan.
- Installing solar panels to harness energy from the sun and generate your own electricity. This also frees your renters from needing power sources on their travels, which may become a big selling point.
- Choosing biofuel options created from vegetable oils and/or animal fats. Biodiesel blends like B20 (80% diesel and 20% biodiesel) can work in traditional diesel engines but will require extra maintenance and more frequent filter changes.
A greener business model
The love of camping typically goes hand-in-hand with a deep respect for the environment, so your customers are likely to care about preserving our natural habitat. Although some eco-friendly modifications may be costly at first, they can pay off for both the environment and your business.
An eco-friendly RV will be an attractive option for many travelers, helping your business remain both environmentally and financially sustainable for years to come. Remember, every step counts towards a greener future!