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Taking Green To The Next Level

As Published In WBCCI Blue Beret Magazine
Taking Green To The Next Level

It seems that these days, everyone is talking about how to be kinder to our environment — reducing waste, consuming fewer resources, leaving a smaller overall footprint. Environmentalism isn’t just for tree huggers, anymore. (A fact that RVers have known for decades!)

What It Means To Be Green

Since the phrase “reduce, reuse, and recycle” appeared on the national tongue during that very first Earth Day in 1970, this tidy little slogan has become our country’s mantra for eco-responsibility. The three R’s trigger images of washing out soda cans, setting the thermostat at 68 degrees in the winter, and turning off the lights when you leave a room. And in theory, this widespread shift toward more sustainable behaviors is a wonderful thing — but the unfortunate fact of the matter is, some people have a seriously warped idea of what eco-friendly actually looks like.

It cracks me up when folks think that tossing their nightly microwave dinner trays in the blue bin and printing every e-mail they receive on 100% post-consumer-content paper is saving the earth. People — there’s so much more to it! The good news is that most RVers are three steps ahead of your average first-world homo sapien — having downsized their living environments, cut back on utility usage and reduced their consum-erist tendencies. But even on the road, there are other ways to take “green” to the next level.

The Disposability Factor

In our modern “convenience culture,” we’ve grown so accustomed to using something once or twice (then tossing it out) that most people have forgotten there’s another way. Actually, you can blame men’s fashion for the whole throwaway trend — in the late 1800’s, the first intentionally disposable time-saving products were created (detachable paper cuffs and shirtfronts and collars, so busy professional men didn’t need their clothes laundered as often). And while some disposables make sense from a hygienic point of view (like bandages and sanitary napkins you don’t have to wash and reuse), I’m not convinced swiffers and dixie cups quite fall in that category.

For almost every convenience bit of trash you throw away, there’s a less-pollution-creating option. Sure, it might take a few more seconds to pack your lunch in a tupperware tub (instead of hitting the drive-thru) or fill that water bottle from your own sink (rather than stopping off at the quick mart for an aquafina) — but isn’t that part of why you chose the RVing lifestyle? To step out of the rat race, to escape the time wasters, to live more slowly and deliberately? It’s all about those little daily decisions you make — and returning to products that can be reused (like refillable tape dispensers, razors with replaceable blades, and eating utensils you wash instead of throwing away) will go a long way toward reducing what ends up in a landfill.

Why So Much Packaging?

Did you know that as much as 50% of any purchase you make ends up in the trash? How is that possible? It’s called “packaging.” These immediately-discardables (boxes, bags, shrink-wrap, packing peanuts, Styrofoam inserts and a miscellany of paper inserts) now rep-resent 32% of all municipal solid waste — for what purpose?

Companies have gone nuts lately in this regard — wrapping nearly everything in more paper, plastic and cardboard than necessary. And what’s the deal with single-serving items, these days? Are human beings so incapable of understanding a portion size that they need every morsel of food doled out to them in individual containers??

The first step is to become aware of your own habits — asking yourself whether or not they’re truly improving your quality of life. Does buying yogurt in a tube make it taste better than getting the exact same stuff in a bigger tub? Is the time you’re saving with those pre-packaged k-cups worth paying more than twice what it would cost to drip your own coffee?

As RVers, our limited storage space makes bulk shopping hard — but whenever possible, try to get out of the single-serving habit. That means buying larger quantities in bigger containers wrapped in less extraneous trash (this also goes for office supplies, cleaning products, toiletries, etc.). It means hunting up those local stores (they tend to be of the nature-nuggety ilk) that let you fill your own containers with their foods. And at the very least, it means becoming loyal to brands that embrace minimal packaging. (There are still a few out there!)

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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