Paper or Plastic?
Originally Posted 11/2/2012
In my case, the conundrum is paper & plastic, or water? RVers who boondock in remote areas typically need to minimize their use of water because using up fresh water and filling their waste tanks means packing up and hauling the RV to a dump station many miles away. They usually then have to pay for the privilege, too. To avoid this, they typically use considerable amounts of paper towels, plates, and drinking cups that need to be disposed of somewhere, which becomes a different problem.
I’ve been trying this for awhile and will likely continue at least until I can get the primary solar panel up and charging. Why? The onboard water pump uses a fair amount of electrical energy, so washing dishes and yes, taking full showers can run me into an electrical dead end. At the moment, the only way I have to recharge the house (or any other) batteries is to hook up to the truck and run its engine to slowly recharge them. It’s not like a jump start, as if the trailer can then take over battery charging on its own. It’s a leisurely and expensive way to charge batteries that puts a lot of wear and tear on the truck’s engine and alternator. It’s not designed for that. So, my official Emergency Conservation Mode continues until the new solar controller can prove itself.
Once the primary solar system is rolling though, I will have a choice. The centerpiece that gives me that open choice is the Tankmin water tanks installed in the truck, and the fact that my unique location makes it possible for me to deal with fresh water and wastewater close by, about 3-4 miles away in the La Posa South campground – all without ever having to move the travel trailer or pay more than a few bucks in fuel costs for the experience.
The absolute least cost option is to continue using minimal water, and generating small recycled shopping bags full of plastic and paper dinnerware that need to be disposed of every few days. It’s an option that I’ve found I’m uncomfortable with. It just feels wasteful. When this area fills up with RVs in January, I can imagine what the dumpsters will look like then. I’ve seen overhead photos of the town of Quartzsite during the various shows early in the year, and it looks like a box of pencils.
So when I have the capability, I think I’ll try leaning heavily on using my real dinnerware, washing up with real soap and water, and using the Tankmin’s reason for being. That may have to change in January when long lines form at the dump stations, but at least I’ll have options.
By the way, paper plates will also continue in the short term because I just turned on the water pump to wash up for the day, and it’s running continuously despite all the faucets being turned off. Very poor water pressure. That means one of two things: suddenly there’s a substantial leak somewhere, or the pump itself can’t maintain pressure and needs attention. Time to break out the diagnostic section of the water pump manual, and maybe go see those nice RV folks again. It’s Friday. Not the best timing.