Airstream’s Environmental Efficiency Part 1: Water Usage
Motor homes aren’t usually associated with environmental friendliness. The first thing that comes to mind is their poor gas mileage. It’s definitely true that moving all that weight is going to eat up fuel. What’s not as immediately obvious is that because of its size, relative to a stationary house, this living arrangement consumes a lot less of everything else. Water is one thing it’s particularly easy on. The fact that there’s no permanent land around it removes one big source of water consumption.
Since an RV is comparatively small, all the water-using fixtures in it are also going to be small. Just by this fact, they’re not going to use much water. Another factor is the limited supply of fresh water the vehicle can carry. Regardless of the person’s attitude toward nature, they are forced to restrict usage to make what they have last. This is particularly true when the vehicle is boondocking. This is when it’s in an isolated area with no external water supply.
The need to make the water tank last has produced some interesting ideas and tricks among travel trailer enthusiasts. A lot of these techniques can just as easily be applied to traditional housing. There are the more obvious things like installing water-saving faucet and shower heads. Placing a plastic tub in the sink that holds less water is another method that can transfer to non-mobile living quarters. It’s also been discovered that the hotter the dishwater is, the more effective it is at cleaning the dishes. This allows the washer to get by with less.
A more drastic approach is to eliminate dishwater altogether by using paper plates and disposable cutlery. This reduces water waste but adds to the nearest landfill. The dirty dishwater can contribute to further conservation by being saved and used for flushing the toilet. Some people try to save water by relying on public restrooms instead of the on-board toilet. This saves the water in the storage tank, but it doesn’t actually conserve water.
Bathing is another key area where water can be saved. Waiting for the shower water to warm-up produces a good amount of wasted water. This can be collected and reused. A great use for it is right back in the dish sink. Just using water to wet oneself and to rinse-off after washing can help keep the storage tank from depleting. This is known as a Navy shower. A more extreme method is called a GI shower. This is roughly the same as a sponge bath. There are even suggestions for further savings by altering one’s appearance. Short hair requires less water to wash than long hair.