Green Camping: How to be a sustainable camper while traveling in a campervan?

Green Camping: Tips on how to be a more sustainable camper while traveling in a campervan.

Maybe you know the old saying “Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but photographs” – this is what green camping is all about! Try not to leave any rubbish at your campsite when travelling in a campervan hire, instead of using a plastic bottle, use eco-friendly products and be careful with the natural environment. We present you with our top 10 tips on how to implement green camping easily while you are living in a campervan:

10 Tips for green camping:

1. Be part of the sustainable lifestyle and recycle

When green camping, bring separate clear rubbish bags for rubbish and recyclables – it allows easy sorting at campground recycling facilities. You can use old packaging like glass containers to store spices or leftover food. Or bring reusable containers for storing leftovers to ensure no food goes to waste.

If it’s necessary to use plastic, remember to recycle those items. Also, it keeps your van organized while living in a campervan. 

While living in a motorhome you may want to do a BBQ, and it may seem convenient to throw packaging and wrappers into the fire, but DON’T. Please dispose of all rubbish in rubbish bags and recycle packaging to avoid polluting the air. This will also protect you and your loved ones from breathing in toxic smoke. 

Empty waste bins as often as possible into the containers provided for this purpose. This helps to avoid unpleasant smells and an accumulation of rubbish on board that can attract insects. For eco-friendly camping, separate household waste according to glass, tin cans, plastic and wet waste when on a journey. Enquire at the town or community centre about disposal points. Household waste is not to be disposed of in waste paper baskets which are situated at car parks. Walk your green camping place before pulling away to ensure all rubbish is removed from the site, and continuing on your adventure.

Would you like to live in a campervan long term? You can with our campervans subscription for 1 to 12 months or longer, more info can be found  here

2. Green Camping Snacks and Meals 

Green camping is not only about waste. To reduce rubbish, you can start with buying less packed supermarket items. Preparing your own meals in your camper van, it will probably taste better, be more fun to make and it will come with less plastic. 

Another helpful item for green camping are refillable water bottles, so you don’t have to buy lots of water bottles. It saves you money and it’s better for the environment! On your road trip you can refill them at every stop, to find usable water stations you can use for example the app Refill, which shows you stations with free water refills and water fountains. 

You can also use the water tap from your own van or refill your water tank at the next campsite. At the same time, it saves you space while living in a motorhome. 

Do you need some ideas for tasty and healthy road trip snacks? Check out our delicious recipes 

3. Be local, buy local!

To keep up a sustainable lifestyle while you are on your road trip, you should avoid shipping emissions and drives to the supermarket. Just look for farmers next door or little markets on the street. Farmer’s markets are a great stop for a lunch break, and you can obtain things like fruits and veggies directly from those who are growing them. They grow in-season fruits and vegetables that didn’t have to be imported from other countries like in the supermarkets. For sure, these farmers will also have the best insider tips for the region which you are travelling to while living in a campervan. 

4. Green campers only watch the nature

You might want to find the best hidden spot away from the touristic streets, but don’t drive off-road illegally or in fragile environments, like living cryptobiotic crusts found in desert regions. Respect your natural surroundings and wildlife, for a good reason, some regions are nature reserves, and you should not disturb the animals. You might see colourful flowers, but do not cut down vegetation on your campsite or any place in the campground. Same for animals, you might see some cute ones, but leave them alone and don’t feed them or photograph them with flash. 

For an eco-friendly camping, always empty the waste water tank and the toilet unit at disposal facilities on the campsite or at specially designated disposal facilities. If you want to stay a longer period in a town or district, look for a specially designated parking place for motorhomes. Ask about parking facilities in towns or districts.

5. Green camping with natural mosquito protection

While camping in nature there will always be insects, but buying chemical bug sprays have a negative effect on the plants and your own body, when you inhale it. 

Here you can find a green camping receipt to make a natural bug spray by yourself (it smells better too):

1 spray bottle (4-oz)

2 oz. Hazel2 oz. distilled water

20-50 drops of your preferred Essential oil 
1. To a 4-oz. spray bottle, add: 2 oz. of witch hazel (this doesn’t need to be exact. Just eyeball it by filling the bottle a little less than half full.) 
2. Add 2 oz. of distilled water (Fill the remainder of the bottle until it’s almost full, but leave room for adding essential oils and the spray top.) 
3. on top add Essential oil (20-25 drops for children age 3+ or 40-50 drops for adults and children age 10+) Essential oils that are traditionally recommended for their bug-repellent properties: Citronella, Lemongrass, Rosemary, Geranium, Spearmint, Thyme, and Clove.

6. The green camping dryer

Take a clothesline and use the free energy of wind and sun to dry your swimsuits and clothes. The same for your hair, get some natural beach waves instead of using an electric hair dryer. 

7. Use eco-friendly soaps instead of shampoo bottles

Green camping doesn’t mean you have to smell bad, with earth-safe soap and toothpaste in hand, you can freely wash off-grid without harming the environment. Synthetic ingredients in personal care products are bad for you, and eventually make their way into the environment, even if you’re not directly dumping it there. The first step is to develop a minimalist personal care routine. From many brands you can now find shampoos or body showers which are made in soap form in supermarkets! It’s not that difficult to find eco-friendly hygienic products. So, get rid of the nightmarish rainbow of plastic bottles bowing the sink!

Please note that eco-friendly soaps do not mean you can just wash directly in lakes, rivers, and other natural waterways. These ecosystems are extremely fragile, and even biodegradable soaps in high concentrations can harm the living creatures that inhabit them. Instead, dump your soapy water at least 200 feet away from any waterway or at a proper disposal site. Even if you’re dumping your grey water into sanctioned treated waterways, toxins from traditional soap can still leach into the earth. Biodegradable soap is a much more eco-friendly option. This includes all kinds of soaps, like dish soap and laundry soap. 

What should I do with my toilet paper? Use an environmentally-friendly WC chemical agent for the WC which can also be biologically degraded and only use small amounts. Bring earth-friendly toilet paper and don’t leave it in nature. Many green campsites also have sanitary facilities for free. 

8. Slow down and enjoy the road

Green camping means calming down and enjoy nature without destroying them. Fast driving consumes a lot of fuel. Stop timing how long it takes to get from point A to point B. Life happens on the drive anyway, enjoy the view on your road trip. 

But do not exaggerate, don’t drive dangerously slow and impede traffic. Use cruise control to regulate gas flow to the engine.

9. Electrical timeout

Take your green camping trip as a timeout from electronic gadgets and social-media. When was the last time you read a book? Instead of watching hours on your phone, go for a walk and enjoy nature! If you work remotely, you might need your laptop and phone, charge them when they are almost discharged instead of leaving it plugged all the time. 

10. Protecting nature can be fun, join some Beach cleanings!

Don’t feel the pressure to make everything perfect, just start to have a more sustainable lifestyle. Living eco-friendly can be fun! When you stay longer in one region, look for some green camping events, like beach- or forest cleanings. Living in a campervan allows you to meet new people while partaking in environmentally friendly activities, such as Beach cleanings. Beach and forest cleanings involves people pick up the rubbish from the beach together, talk and some might go after for dinner or a drink. In some bigger cities you can join workshops for making your own soap, recycling or eco-friendly cooking.

Green Camping doesn’t mean you have to follow 100 of rules, just do what you can and have fun!

About the Autor

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Verena Tölle

Verena is wave lover and always on the hunt to find new surf spots and the best places to see the sunset.