5 Effective Ways to Make Your Caravan Getaway Greener
As we take the first steps in returning to caravan sites, we look at how we can make simple changes to look after the environment around us.
The world has changed in the past few months. The COVID-19 pandemic remains one of the most profound global tragedies in living memory. At the time of writing, the virus has claimed over 40,000 lives in the UK alone and disrupted a great many more. Over a quarter of a million people have contracted the virus, and a great many more have faced enormous disruption to their jobs, their lifestyles and their personal wellbeing. Many have not known what to do with themselves after being placed on furlough. Many have lost their jobs altogether as UK businesses go into administration.
Still, even the darkest and most menacing rainclouds show a glimmer of silver lining. All around the world we’ve been spending more time indoors, using our cars less and taking fewer international flights. We’ve been dropping less litter and pumping fewer harmful compounds into the atmosphere. The planet has undoubtedly benefited from it. Carbon emissions are estimated to be down 6-8% this year. While this may not seem like much, it’s a huge step in the right direction.
Our nation’s wildlife and plants are starting to bounce back. This is the time not to lose the momentum that we’ve built up over the past few months.
With camping sites opening again from the 4th July, we are beginning to feel that we could all do with a holiday. For those who tow, this means getting packed up and taking the family away on a caravan getaway.
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The good news- Caravan holidays are already one of the greenest getaways!
We assume that a holiday is not only a costly affair for our household budgets, but for the environment too. International flights, coach tours, cruises, they all create a carbon footprint. But caravaners can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their preferred means of getting away is among the greenest holidays possible.
If you were to take the family on a holiday to Europe, the return trip would produces roughly 250kg and 500kg of carbon dioxide per passenger. For a family of 4, that’s up to 2,000 kilos of CO2. That is more than most families produce in a year. However, if the same family travelled 250 miles in a petrol driven vehicle towing a medium sized caravan, they could expect to produce around 38kg in carbon dioxide emissions. Many newer caravan models are made from recycled and recyclable materials. They are designed and developed with aerodynamics in mind. This reduces petrol consumption while towing, thereby reducing your trips carbon footprint.
A caravan getaway makes a lot of sense in the current climate. It’s easy to socially distance when you and your family are completely self-contained. You’re likely to be spending time in some of our nation’s favourite beauty spots. You’re likely to enjoy the mental health benefits that come with spending time in nature. You may prefer the beach, countryside or our amazing woodlands and national parks.
Still, eco-conscious campers may wonder if there’s anything more they can do to make their caravan getaway greener. It just so happens that we have a few suggestions…
Could you choose a more efficient tow car?
If your old workhorse is starting to age, now might be the time to consider choosing a more efficient model. Dealerships have reopened around the country, many are motivated to move their stock after poor sales. If your finances allow, it makes sense to consider upgrading to something new.
Now might be the time to consider a hybrid vehicle. Many caravan owners believe that a hybrid, or plug-in electric vehicle, won’t have the capability to tow a caravan. As we found ourselves when we tested the Subaru e-BOXER, they do. There are numerous hybrids and even an all-electric model which can generate the torque necessary to tow your caravan. The most capable electric tow car is currently the Tesla Model X SUV. This is the only all-electric vehicle capable of towing a caravan. It has an impressive towing limit of 2,270kg!
If your budget doesn’t stretch to the Tesla then take a look at the Vauxhall Grandland X Hybrid. Vauxhall’s first ever all-wheel drive plug-in hybrid has a respectable towing capacity of up to 1,250 kg. When you need to unhitch the caravan, you’ll find that you can go up to 30 miles in all-electric mode. The regenerative braking option captures kinetic energy and converts it in to electricity, adding a 10% boost to this range.
Keep your speed down
You don’t have to invest in a new car to shave some of the carbon emissions off your journey. By reducing your speed you can reduce your fuel use and save money at the pump. Keep your speed to a safe minimum when towing and stick to speed limits on site. You’ll be able to reduce your fuel consumption, saving money and cutting down on your emissions.
After all, you’re on holiday. It’s really not the time to rush.
Cooking outdoors? Pile your plate with veggies
When caravanning a huge part of the enjoyment is food and cooking. We all enjoy a few takeaways with the family in the caravan, and get to try out some great local restaurants and eateries. One of the most social aspects comes from cooking outdoors. There’s nothing quite like gathering around the grill to enjoy the intoxicating aroma of food cooked in the open air. A BBQ with friends and family is something we can all enjoy.
Before you fire up the BBQ, think about what you put on it. It is fair to say we have been guilty of not considering the health benefits of what we cook. Our consumption of meat may be contributing to climate change, if theories are to be believed.
Animal agriculture is one of the world’s largest causes of air pollution. It accounts for 18% of the planet’s global emissions.
Of course, that’s not to say that every eco-conscious caravaner has to go vegan or vegetarian. We can consider mixing things up a little. Throw a few more veggie kebabs on the grill, a vegetable paella on the Cadac or veggie burgers the Cobb. Believe it or not, I have tried plant based substitutions and found some to be very good. Linda McCartney sausages and Beyond Burgers are actually very good. When buying produce look out for plastic packaging, which brings us to…
Reduce waste and recycle, recycle, recycle
It goes without saying that you need to think responsibly when it comes to dealing with your caravan waste. Purchase reusable cutlery and crockery rather than paper plates and non-recyclable plastic cutlery. Where you can, buy fruits and veggies loose rather than packaged in plastic.
Never dispose of waste water in lakes and streams as the detergent from your washing up or showers can be extremely harmful to local plant and marine life.
Most camp sites will have a motorhome waste disposal area where you can empty out your grey water tank. There will be facilities for emptying chemical toilets responsibly. Think about the chemicals you are using in your toilet cassette and flush. Try to use environmentally friendly products which are septic tank safe.
While your pet waste may not pose a huge problem for the environment, it can really sour other holidaymakers’ getaways. Pick up after your pet and dispose of it properly. There are lots of biodegradable poop bags out there which are a good alternative.
Recycle where you can, but try to reuse and repurpose and use recycling as a last resort. Sadly, a disturbing amount of our recycling waste never actually gets recycled.
Wherever possible, leave only footprints and take only memories.
Get on your bikes
Once you’ve arrived on site, unhitched your caravan and relaxed it will be time to explore. If you have room and the payload then take your bikes. You can see much more whilst pedalling around the local area than you will in the car. We have certainly found this with our eBikes and have enjoyed the exercise. Cycling is a much more immediate and enjoyable way to explore your destination than driving round. You’ll encounter far less stress in finding somewhere to park and save on car park charges. It’s easier to stop when you see somewhere for a picnic or take a photo. It’s a nice way to bond as a family. Cycling is good for both your health and the environment.
Where ever your touring trips take you this summer, think about the local environment and your impact upon it.