Sunday, February 27, 2011

Downsizing, RV'ing and Carbon Footprint

I love the idea of less stuff. We just downsized two years ago from 3700 sq. ft. to 2100 sq. ft. and now we are preparing to move into a 360 sq. ft. RV. We also have to consider how much that stuff weighs.

I always felt guilty living in 3700 sq. ft. in that it took lots of resources to heat and cool, furnish, and maintain such a home. I felt that it was overkill for two people and that I was doing a good thing for the environment to downsize. But, to be fair, it had been neglected for many years, so we did do a good thing by buying and restoring the house. 

We then moved into a 2100 sq. ft. condo, that is concrete and steel, and is extremely energy efficient. We live downtown and can ride our bicycles for our errands. We work from home and drive very little. I have struggled a little with justifying our increase of fuel usage moving around in our RV. I always saw myself driving one of those electric cars, or holding out for a car with a solar panel and windmill on the roof. Now, here I am planning to buy and drive a 3500 dual-wheel diesel truck.

I think that we will spend several months in one place each year, which will cut down on fuel usage.  And, I think that our plan of not being in extreme temps and the reduction of square footage to heat, cool and maintain will offset our carbon footprint. We will buy and consume less, because of limited space. Although it is harder to recycle on the road, I know I will find a way, or else, the guilt will kick in. I don't like feeding our landfills with stuff that can be reused.

I think that RV'ers are viewed by some as being resource hogs, because of the fuel usage and the fact that they "plug" in. And, many folks are critical of RV'ers having some of the amenities of a Stick & Brick house, but call themselves "camping". But I think that if those that are being critical would consider that they too are "camping" in a fixed place, probably with a much bigger carbon footprint than RV'ers.

I think the real heros with the least carbon footprint in our country are the homeless! They use things other folks have discarded, they often share a community kitchen, and they typically walk wherever they go. I love supporting the homeless as I downsize. We are very fortunate and should never take our ability to have food, clothing and shelter for granted!

Do other RV'ers ever think about these things?


Merikay said...


I wonder about the responsibility of driving a big RV from place to place. After the oil spill last year I did some serious thinking. But ti was pointed out that most RVer actually do use less energy than full size houses.

I'm not about to volunteer to be homeless!

ThE MidLiFe CrUiSeR said...

I think of myself as a modern hippie. We boondock so often (or go the cheap route in RV parks with just partial hookups) that we conserve with the best of them!

I'm talking water just trickling out of the faucet, bird baths, and using battery operated lanterns to save electricity.

Does that make me crazy? Yes! Crazy and proud of it! And I wouldn't have it any other way :)

Sue and Doug said...

good for you for thinking of how this 'lifestyle' effects the environment!..have a good one..happy packing!..
you commented on my blog and said your husband was in Whistler!? wierd is that!...only a few hours drive from us!!

Judy and Emma said...

Yes, I think our footprint is less, and we can do things to make a difference in other areas. :)

Donna aka Froggi said...

Good thoughts...we love boondocking, using our solar for power, conserving water so we only need to move at two weeks or so.

You can recycle on the road...I had written an article about that on a now defunct blog. You just have to be aware and on the lookout for places.

Another good thing about RVing is that we tend to look for and use multi-purpose items. Less space means things need to be functional.

Erik's RV Blog said...

The amount of fuel you use as compared to people who choose to fly to destinations is so little in comparison its laughable.

Motorhome Magazine did an article comparing families that traveled by typical means and a family that traveled by RV. The difference in impact in so many areas so outweighed the fuel costs it wasn't worth comparing.

So get an RV, enjoy it and don't worry so much about the fuel usage. I guess I was thinking ahead of people when I switched to energy saving light bulbs in my house 13 years ago when they first came out.

Check to see what rating your rig has. Newer gas models I believe can attain up to ULEVII which taks about a year to pollute as much as a car did in one day going down the road the same distance back in the 70's.

Consider this as well, the people driving Hybred's have to dispose of the batteries, where do you think Toyota and other companies are dumping them? Hydrogen is great right? To make it you have to strip out the carbon atom and guess where they exhaust that during the process, right into our air.

You pollute a lot less than you may imagine. ;)

Thoughts to ponder.

Laurie and George said...

We too are down-sizing. I have an old victorian that is on the market. We have moved into George's (my fiance) house which is half the size of mine. We call it 'my get ready for the fifth wheel'. One more step!!

Deborah said...

Nellie, you are a modern day hippie! And one "far-out chic, man". I will admit, I do like my hookups. But, our tanks are so small on the little Winnebago that you can't go long without dumping. Maybe with the "NEW FIVER" it won't be such and issue.

Sue and Doug (Not sure who posted), my hubby will fly out home from your neck of the woods tomorrow. I told him to get ready for some serious packing!

Judy, your footprint has to be negative with all of the work you do in parks and with wildlife. You are like our Jane Goodall of the RV'ing blogworld! My hat is off to you, and I greatly admire what you do!

Deborah said...

Thanks for your thoughts about this.

Erik, go with the laminate. I know you were asking for suggestions, and that is my vote.

Donna, I will be looking for places on the road to recycle.

Laurie, good luck with the sale of the Victorian. We restored a house built in 1922, and loved it while we were in it, and loved leaving it! It takes lots of work and lots of monet to maintain those old homes.