So you finally made it a habit to separate your bottles, cans, cardboard and other renewables from non-recyclable trash. Good for you! Unfortunately when you leave your stick house behind to go full-time RVing, you’ll probably discover that recycling in RV parks and campgrounds across America is still the exception and not the rule. But thankfully, things are changing.
RV Park Recycling Reality Check
As a full-time RVer originally from eco-friendly Northern California, I was heartbroken to learn that only a handful of RV parks in America participate in recycling programs. You’ll find some RV park recycling in progressive places like the West Coast, but in rural towns and cities, it’s mostly non-existent. While it’s easy to point the finger at the business itself, oftentimes they’re not the ones to blame.
When I was workamping at a dude ranch in rural Colorado and tried to start a recycling program, it didn’t take long for me to discover two things: 1) Even with proper storage practices, recycling containers in rural locations are a welcome mat for bears and rodents. 2) Recycling in rural areas is extremely expensive because it costs businesses and municipalities more money than they gain when transfering to the nearest recycling center.
So what’s a RVer to do? Some full-time RVers will hang onto their recyclables until the travel to a recycling station. I won’t, however. My 27′ fifth wheel and short-bed Dodge has no extra space for storage bins and I also fear that smelly containers will attract insects, and the aforementioned rodents.
More RV Parks “Plan-It Green”
The truth is, the RV park recycling dilemma is a bigger issue than one park can handle on its own. This problem is also about energy consumption, water use and customer education. The good news is there is hope. I recently discovered how you can encourage more RV parks to think green.
The National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) manages the “Plan-It Green,” initiative to support and recognize RV resorts that goes far beyond a basic recycling program. The program recognizes RV parks that meet specific eco-friendly guidelines and demonstrate a commitment to running a green park.
A few examples of best Plan-It Green practices at parks include:
- Motion sensors for lighting in the bathrooms and club house
- Energy efficient light bulbs
- Non-toxic biodegradable cleaning products
- Water-saving shower heads and/or auto turn-off taps
- Recycle bins for cans, paper, glass and plastic
- Energy-saving products and appliances
- Eco-friendly and ‘Leave No Trace’ tips and education for guests
- Landscaping consists of wood chip, pebble, paved, or grass paths
- On-site solar power or wind power
- Low flush toilets or waterless urinals
- Grey water recycling system (where allowed)
- On-site organic composting
- Sends email confirmations rather than paper to minimize waste
- Geo-thermal heating/cooling
- Plants new trees frequently
To qualify as a Plan-It Green Park, the business must meet nine or more criteria of 18 to qualify. Each year awards are given to the highest ranking Plan-It Green parks and in 2015 they included:
River’s End Campground & RV Park in Tybee Island, Georgia., which received the award in the small/medium size park category.
Santee Lakes Recreation Preserve & Campground, Santee, California, which received the award in the large/mega park category.
If throwing your recyclables into the trash bin breaks your heart as much as it does mine, why not commit to staying at Plan-It Green Parks around the U.S.? The ARVC’s consumer website at GoCampingAmerica.com lets you locate Plan It Green RV Parks in whatever city and state where you’re traveling. Just use the search terms “Recycling” and the general location where you’ll be staying.