When off-grid camping in a recreational vehicle (RV) we may find ourselves next to a beautiful ocean vista, alongside a picturesque stream or on the edge of a gorgeous lake; but even where pure, fresh, water is available, we will be constrained by the capacity of its onboard tanks. Conserving water can prolong the duration of our stay and allow more flexibility in our activities. More than that, learning how to save water in our RV can allow us to travel greener and make our adventures more eco-friendly.
- Conservation first: The first stage in water conservation should be to consider how we might either expand our water-carrying capacity or source water from the surrounding environment in sustainable ways such as harvesting rainwater that can be used to run sinks, toilets or showers, water plants or be purified for use as drinking water.
- Install a greywater system: Greywater (used) water drained from sinks and shower can be use in flushing the toilet.
- Purify water from the natural surroundings: A water purifier is a must-have piece of equipment for spending a lot of time in an RV in wilderness locations.
- Upgrade the water pump: In addition to upgrading to larger water tanks, upgrading the water pump can save water and energy, because an inefficient or poorly functioning water pump can mean that taps must be turned further to get sufficient pressure—plus, water that arrives in fits and starts often gets wasted.
- Flush less frequently: This could involve using toilets external to the RV such as campground restrooms or even opting to go outdoors when appropriate.
- Install a low-flow model or composting toilet: The flushing of a toilet accounts for a huge amount of water waste in an RV. Composting toilets do not require any water at all, and are the greenest choice.
- Install low-flow shower head and faucets: Faucets with aerators fitted and showerheads designed to conserve water will waste less water and make a surprisingly big difference over time.
- Turn off the tap while brushing or shaving: Cut this out and the water savings will quickly add up.
- Take fewer, shorter showers: But showers can use a shocking amount of water.
- Heat hot water only to the temperature required for a shower: A lot of the water wasted in showering is wasted by mixing hot and cold water to reach the required temperature.
- Consider natural, al fresco bathing options: A dip in a waterfall or pure mountain stream may sometimes be all that we require.
- Skip showers and wipe clean instead: Opt for the occasional sponge bath or wipe clean instead of a full head-to-toe immersion. Use eco-friendly, biodegradable wet wipes.
- Use a dry shampoo: Washing hair can be a particularly water-intensive activity. Combing bicarbonate of soda or corn starch through the hair is an eco-friendly, low-cost solution.
- Scrape and wipe plates before washing: We can significantly cut down on the amount of water required by pre-processing plates and utensils before washing them. Washing dishes that are already mostly clean is far quicker and uses far less water.
- Cook simple, one-pot or no-pot dishes to save on washing: There are plenty of ways to enjoy cold meals such as sandwiches, grilled barbecue goodies or one-pot wonders that involve few pots and utensils.
- Cook more than one meal at the same time: Bulk cooking sessions can save on washing, energy and time.
- Use eco-friendly disposable plates: Check that they are a green and sustainable choice—eco-friendly, biodegradable types—rather than Styrofoam or other plastic options that will end up in a landfill.
- Reuse water from boiling to wash dishes: Often, the water used to boil vegetables can be reused to wash dishes with no ill effect at the soaping stage.
These tips should provide inspiration to help you save water in the RV. The more water we save, the better it will be for the planet.
Elizabeth Waddington is a contributing writer to Natural Awakenings magazine.