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How to Bring Your Campground Into the Sustainable Age

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Environmentalism is on the rise across the globe, and it’s inspiring to see. Both individuals and businesses are getting on the path to greener and more ethical practices—and it’s no surprise that outdoor hospitality is a big part of that movement. Afterall the campground experience is all about uniting with the outdoors and celebrating nature—so introducing more environmental- and ethic-friendly practices to your campground only makes sense.

Here are some key strategies to strengthen your park’s eco and ethical footprint. Once you start, remember to get the message across to potential guests by highlighting your commitment on your website, third channel booking sites, social media and in press releases. It matters—campers (especially millennials and GenZ) tend to be more environmentally conscious than ever and establishing your park as a green destination may be just what you need to boost reservations. A great example of promoting this movement is KOA®’s Kamp Green program, which encourages their campgrounds to adopt environmentally positive changes and then awards owners with one, two or three-leaf icons. The parks are then included in a search engine for campers seeking eco-friendly properties.

Ready to get started? Let’s go!

Upgrade to Energy Efficient Appliances & Fixtures

If financially feasible, start replacing your campground’s older, less energy efficient appliances and fixtures with today’s most energy-efficient models—and in some cases, enhance your upgrades with other smart strategies (i.e. install occupancy sensors on lighting in common areas). Here are some of the most important appliance/fixture upgrades to consider.

  • ENERGY STAR®-rated LED lighting for both outdoor and indoor structures (uses at least 75% less energy and lasts 25% longer than conventional incandescent lighting)
  • ENERGY STAR®-rated tankless (instantaneous) water heaters (uses 25% less energy than conventional commercial units, plus campers enjoy a continuous supply of hot water)
  • ENERGY STAR®-qualified beverage vending machines (50% more energy efficient than standard models)
  • EPA WaterSense®-labeled toilets, urinals, showerheads, faucets in restroom/shower areas (WaterSense-labeled toilets use 20% less water than what the Federal standards mandate/ WaterSense-labeled showerheads use no more than 2.0 gallons per minutes)
  • EPA WaterSense®-labeled irrigation controls (Typically save an annual average of 15%)
  • Energy efficient hand dryers for restrooms (Studies show they typically use between 40% and 80% less energy than conventional hand dryers)
  • ENERGY STAR®-rated variable-speed pool pumps as a replacement for single and two-speed pumps
  • ENERGY STAR® solar pool heaters (Potentially cuts CO2 emissions in half and has a lifetime of approximately 20 years)
  • Pool covers (minimize evaporation and cut down on heat loss)

Carefully Select Products Used at Your Property

Upgrade your campground’s buying practices so the products you use and sell fit your new eco and ethically conscious practices

  • Switch to natural housekeeping products like Method (which is a LEEDS-certified facility) or Seventh Generation to clean restrooms, showers, cabins and more
  • If you provide linens for your cabin beds, invest in bamboo sheets or sustainable organic cotton bedding
  • Try to stock your convenience store with products like organic, fair-trade coffee, tea and chocolate; increase your selection of organic, plant-based snacks (including marshmallows); and sell locally sourced items when possible
  • Sell seasoned firewood that burns cleaner

Create a Standardized Process for Staff that Promotes an Eco-Friendly Agenda

Create a more environmentally conscious process for your team. They should be savvy about wasteful behavior and knowledgeable about ways to improve their efficiency

  • Campground workers should patrol for litter and properly dispose in either trash or recycling receptacles (or compost bins if you have them)
  • Staff should check toilet, urinal and sinks for leaks or malfunctions—and repair problems immediately
  • Make sure housekeeping is conservative in water use while cleaning restroom/shower areas (i.e. Do not leave shower water running longer than necessary for rinsing and do not flush toilets excessively)
  • Maintenance should inspect appliances, pipes, and other equipment for leaks or operational failures and repair asap
  • Collect water in rain buckets to use for gardening and irrigation
  • When swimming pool will be unused for a few days, staff should turn the heater down or off to save energy
  • Swimming pool temperatures should be at 78º for optimum energy savings. Energy costs increase by 10%–30% for each degree rise in temperature.

Create Less Waste

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. This is such an important concept for campgrounds that can make a tremendous impact on our nation’s landfills.

Here are some guidelines to help you cut back on waste and keep your campground (and the planet) looking beautiful

  • Buy products in bulk to minimize packaging
  • Have an appropriate number of recycling bins throughout your property for guests and campground staff
  • Do away with plastic bags at camp convenience store and post signs asking campers to bring recyclable bags with them.
  • Look into starting a compost program and encourage campers to contribute appropriate waste to it. When compost breaks down, you can give it back to your property’s soil.   

Remember, change comes in small steps—and no one expects an eco-friendly overhaul in a year. But every green step your campground takes can make a difference to the environment and in your overhead. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to show your environmentally and ethically conscious guests that your property supports a better, more sustainable world.

Do you have an eco-friendly policy in place at your property? Let us know what green strategies you follow! 

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