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Green RVing — Trash And Recycling

When you live in a radically smaller space, you tend to be more conscious of the waste that you create and dispose of. In a house with regular trash service and a huge garbage can sitting out in your driveway just waiting to be filled, it’s easy to generate a lot of debris. But in an RV (where we have a teensy trash can and have to carry every bag of refuse to the dumpster), we’re a lot more aware of how much we throw away.

Waste Not, Want Not

Even when we had a house, we put out less trash than most people because we composted our organic wastes, donated anything usable, and recycled everything from glass and plastic to scrap metal and carpet. While I can’t have a traveling compost pile (and don’t think that I haven’t tried to figure out a way), it’s still easier not to contribute to the growth of landfills as a full-timer. To begin with, we bring less “stuff” into our lives than before, which means less to get rid of. We don’t buy newspapers or magazines, canceled our catalog subscriptions, and have taken every step possible to cut down on junk mail. We avoid those “freebie” trinkets people give you at conferences and festivals. We avoid disposable items. And we aren’t shedding the “house waste” we did when we were constantly renovating or upgrading.

We also stay away from items with excess packaging — if you want to keep me from EVER buying your product, be sure to wrap it in 16 unnecessary layers of plastic and cardboard. When given a choice, we choose fresh over prepackaged — we can take the time to make meals from scratch, rather than buy things in cans, boxes, or bags. We buy foods in bulk then store them in our own containers, and avoid “single serving” items like the plague — both to save on cost and on packaging. Why do Americans need everything apportioned out for them these days? Are they that lazy, or just incapable of figuring how much is in a serving?

And we go out of our way to choose items with recycled or recyclable packaging. We keep a reusable recycling bag next to our picnic table for bottles and cans — we also try to recycle cardboard and paper wherever we can. While some neighborhoods we’ve lived in didn’t have recycling programs, we rarely visit an RV park that doesn’t have bins right next to the dumpsters. In Atlanta, I had to drive all the way across town to drop off my recyclables — the gas consumption sort of negated my good intentions. But now, it’s part of our daily routine, just like taking the trash out. As Bret and Jemaine will tell you, even though sorting the recycles isn’t part of foreplay, it’s still very important.

Copyright Ramona Creel, all rights reserved. Ramona Creel is a modern Renaissance woman and guru of simplicity — traveling the country as a full-time RVer, sharing her story of radically downsizing, and inspiring others to regain control of their own lives. As a Professional Organizer and Accountability Coach, Ramona will help you create the time and space to focus on your true priorities — clearing away the clutter other obstacles and standing in the way of that life you’ve always wanted to be living. As a Professional Photographer, Ramona captures powerful images of places and people as she travels. And as a travel writer, social commentator, and blogger, she shares her experiences and insights about the world as we know it. You can see all these sides of Ramona — read her articles, browse through her photographs, and even hire her to help get your life in order — at And be sure to follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.


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