Dealing With Trash in Your RV: What You Can Do

Dealing with trash in an RV: man throwing garbage in a dumpster

Dealing with trash at home is different from dealing with your trash while traveling in your RV. While you have a garbage truck regularly passing by your house, it is a different story when you are driving in and out of campgrounds and you have no permanent place to dispose of your trash.

RV parks and campgrounds have designated dumping stations for waste disposal. It is also good practice to dispose of trash every chance you get and take advantage of trash bins in grocery stores and gas stations. Other trash disposal methods include burning, eco-bricks, and compost bins.

This article aims to raise awareness of the importance of proper waste disposal and why trash etiquette is a must among all travelers, the different ways you can dispose of trash, as well as where to properly do it. I will also discuss the impact of intentional purchasing on reduced waste, which ultimately results in clutter-free and stress-free RV living full-time.

Practicing Trash Etiquette: Why It Is Important

Traveling in an RV can be more wasteful than staying at home just because you are constantly moving around and usually getting things in pieces rather than in bulk. With this type of lifestyle, it produces more trash in the long run. When you are not an ethical traveler, you may just leave your trash anywhere convenient for you. However, this is not good for you, for your fellow campers, and for the environment. 

Whether you have a brick-and-mortar house or you are traveling all over the world, it is everyone’s social responsibility to practice proper trash disposal. Driving to and staying at different parks encourages campers to be more mindful of their trash especially when you are sharing a public space with other people. Disposing of your trash properly not only makes you a good citizen of the world but ultimately lets you enjoy a more fulfilling and responsible RV travel lifestyle.

Disposing of Your Trash Properly: The Best Way to Go

When you are too busy having fun with your outdoor adventures, it is easy to forget about your chores, such as taking out the trash. The following will talk about the different ways how you can dispose of your trash properly while you are living on the road.

Make Sure That You Have A System

Instead of having your trash lying around in your RV, collect them categorically for easier disposal. You could also set a schedule for when you will dispose of your trash, so you can properly plan out your days according to your domestic tasks. You will not always have a trash bin conveniently waiting for you outside your RV, which is why you would be compelled to take a trip to nearby campgrounds in between boondocking. You could also do your water refills and gas up while at it to maximize your pit stop.

Dispose of Your Trash Properly: How to Do It

It is important that you know where you can properly dispose of your trash. There are plenty of places where you can do so as long as you make the proper research.

RV parks and campgrounds usually allow overnight campers to use their dumping stations for free while guests are required to pay a small amount. Take advantage of disposal bins you see along the way during your travels. Throw your trash every chance you get so you do not accumulate clutter in your RV and prevent unwelcome guests such as cockroaches and ants from getting inside your vehicle. This is the part where it is important to collate your trash accordingly.

You can dump your trash at grocery stores, gas stations, and convenience stores, to name a few. You might also bump into stand-alone dumping stations en route to your boondocking destination, so it should be convenient for you to throw out any piece of trash you have in your RV to reduce clutter. Doing so requires a small change but makes a huge difference for your RV’s tidiness and for your peace of mind.

If you are keen, you can even do this spontaneously to make the most of your errands. For example, right after doing your grocery run, you can immediately throw away the unnecessary packaging you will not be needing back at your RV. Groceries have trash bins in the area, so this should not be a problem. Better yet, use reusable bags and avoid single-use items that can add to your clutter. 

Trash Disposal Methods: Different Ways on How to Do It

Now you know when and where to do your trash disposal. The next thing that you should know is how do you dispose of your trash properly. In this section, we discuss the different ways you can dispose of your trash aside from simply tossing them to the nearest bin you see. 

Assemble Campfire

Some campers choose to burn food scraps like those from vegetables and fruits on a campfire for a reduced carbon footprint. You can do this at RV parks or when you are out in the boonies. You can burn mostly papers and scraps. Just do not throw in your extra plastic bags, old magazines, and beat-up boots. For convenience, you can burn your trash using the same campfire you used for cooking. This saves you more time and energy from making a new one. 

Build Your Own Eco-Bricks

For a different method, eco-bricks are a great technique to collect trash especially if you have small items lying around in your RV such as candy wrappers, plastic packaging, styrofoam, and single-use plastic straws. There is no need to be a pro to build your own eco-bricks. All you need are your small items of trash, scissors, and your bottle. To start, wash the plastic items and leave them to dry. Once dry, cut them into small pieces and pack them inside a 1.5L bottle. Do this until the bottle is filled to the brim. 

Environmental advocates might be meticulous with the contents of your eco-brick bottles, so be sure you are not packing metal, glass, paper, and biodegradables inside. In some parts of the world, eco-bricks are used as replacements for regular hollow blocks in building infrastructures. A standard hollow block has a PSI (pound per square inch) of 150 while cement eco-bricks hold as much as 670, 770, and 870 PSI, making them four times stronger. 

Once you have a good amount of bottles collected in your RV, you may drop them off at eco-brick drop and exchange hubs. Otherwise, you can use this simple technique to reduce huge chunks of trash in your RV while on the lookout for a dumping station en route to your destination. Either way, this helps reduce clutter and makes disposing of trash more organized.

Prepare a Compost Bin

Making your own compost bin is another option for disposing of your trash, particularly food scraps. This is suggested only if you are boondocking and not transferring RV parks every three days since composting requires a lot of time, attention, and materials. Composting was initially used for gardens but its benefits expanded over time, which means you can practice it for different purposes. One of them is reducing waste. 

A compost bin has lots of layers. You want to start off with your base layer of twigs, sticks, and branches, followed by the first brown layer composed of dried leaves or shredded paper. For the first green layer, you have grass clippings, followed by another brown layer but this time with a mix of hay and straw. Then you pile on another green layer. This time, with kitchen scraps. Top it all off with a brown layer of fallen leaves and you have yourself a basic compost bin. Remember to mix the pile regularly and keep it moist like a sponge – neither too wet nor too dry.

Make a Worm Compost & Bin

Worm compost is primarily gathered to use as plant fertilizers. They make great compost since worms consume plenty of nutrient-rich food like vegetable and fruit scraps. This gives you an alternative for a trash bin in your RV. 

Making a worm bin is easy. You only need a container, bedding, worms, and food scraps. For the bedding, you have the common options of coco coir, peat moss, straw and hay, fall leaves and yard waste, and wood chips. For convenience, newspapers are the most accessible item. The best container material is plastic, so you can easily wash it and have something sturdy and low maintenance while traveling. A 13×13 inch container provides sufficient space for red worms or red wigglers. Anything around this size would do. 

Remember to only use fruits and vegetable scraps. Do not add in meat, dairy, and oils. These have complex materials that break down longer, which can then attract pests. Also, avoid putting in citrus fruits that are too acidic and can attract fruit flies. Food like onions and broccoli have a strong smell that can be irritating in an enclosed space such as an RV, so try to avoid these foods as well. Make sure the bedding feels like a wrung-out sponge. Too wet and the worms might drown, too dry and the worms might get dehydrated and have a hard time tunneling.

Anaerobic Digestion

The last thing that you can do is follow the anaerobic digestion when disposing of your trash. It is a natural process where plant and animal materials are broken down by micro-organisms without the presence of air. Also known as biomass, it releases a methane-rich gas that is used as a renewable heat source and for power. The remaining material is rich in nutrients and can be used as a fertilizer.

The best way to do this is to use cloth bags instead of plastic bags to store your garbage. It will reduce the amount of waste that you will bring into your rig. No matter where you shop, you can always bring your own cloth bags instead of using the plastic bags that are available in stores.
Also, make sure that you buy food with minimal packaging, and this would include food that comes in boxes wrapped in plastic. Try to shop at farmer’s markets instead of the regular grocery stores and reduce your paper usage. You can make your own cleaner sand detergents since plenty of containers that are used for these are not really recyclable.

Lastly, don’t ever mix hazardous waste or throw it away with general waste. These hazardous wastes include paint cans, tires, bulbs, paints, and so much more.

How To Be Mindful Consumers 

A proper trash etiquette is a responsible act but mindful consumerism makes it noble. Having said this, it is best to always dispose of your trash properly not only for yourself but also for other people and the environment.

The most important aspect of intentional consumerism is planning ahead. Knowing when you will do your water refills, grocery runs, and cooking can significantly eliminate unnecessary waste, and also save you time, energy, and RV fuel. Scheduling your meals can help you figure out your trash disposal time, and later on, help you make a solid schedule for campground visits, especially if you love boondocking and prefer to stay in a remote area for an extended period. This means you need to go out of your way to dispose of your trash, although it is a small price to pay for you to enjoy a clutter-free RV lifestyle.

When you are on your shopping runs, remember to buy in bulks. This reduces trash spent on packaging and helps you avoid impromptu shopping sprees when you plan ahead. You can be an eco-warrior in your own ways by reducing single-use items such as plastic straws and disposable utensils, and building your own zero-waste kit instead. Opt for reusable containers as much as possible and whenever. Go paperless with your transactions and personal tasks if you can help it. This includes preferring apps and email confirmations in lieu of printed brochures and receipts.


Proper trash etiquette goes a long way in allowing you and other campers to enjoy RV living. This promotes ethical traveling behavior, especially towards the environment. It helps to have a system for disposing of your trash so you can enjoy your outdoor adventures without being held back by waste concerns. There are different methods of trash disposal you can do, depending on your travel routine and personal preferences. Ultimately, intentional purchasing results in lesser trash. This makes dealing with trash in an RV easier, so you can reduce your waste and enjoy a clutter-free RV living full time.

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