There are many exciting upsides to moving, such as the opportunity for a fresh start and a new space to make your own. However, if you have been striving for a greener lifestyle, the environmental impact that comes with a move may be overshadowing your excitement. After all, the classic approach of tackling this life transition—packing your home into numerous boxes filled with packing materials—isn’t exactly eco-friendly. Thankfully, there are plenty of simple ways to make your move easier on the environment.
We talked to Oz Moving about trying to make your move more eco-conscious, and whether you’ve decided to hire a moving company or are taking a DIY approach, consider these 10 eco-friendly moving tips.
Rent Reusable Boxes
Cardboard is no longer the only option for boxes. You can now rent plastic crates through a variety of places, such as U-Haul, Bungo Box, Rent A Green Box, and Frog Box. These crates are made from post-consumer plastic waste and can be used hundreds of times before they enter the recycling stream again. Beyond their environmental benefits, these boxes are also much sturdier than cardboard and easier to stack in the moving truck. This means there is less of a chance that something will break and your move will require fewer trips.
Use What You Have
You probably have quite a few items that you already own that would be great for transporting your belongings. You can supplement boxes with laundry baskets, cloth bags, suitcases, wicker baskets, and gym bags. For box padding, nix the bubble wrap and raid your linen closet and drawers instead. Blankets, towels, and clothing are all great to pad boxes, while socks and scarves are the perfect size to wrap small items.
Know about your move a few months beforehand? Start saving packing material. Newspaper and egg cartons are also good options for padding.
Rethink Packing Material
If you do decide to buy packing material, you can still skip the plastic. For example, instead of plastic tape, you can use paper tape. If you’ve exhausted your fabric supply and still need to cushion boxes, then look for bubble wrap made from recycled polythene or packing peanuts composed of cornstarch. There are also other eco-friendly packing materials options out there, made of everything from seaweed to mushrooms. You just have to do a bit of research to find what is readily available in your area. To do so, you can always do a local online search or call nearby moving companies to see what they have on hand.
Declutter Your Home
The less stuff you have, the less packing material you will need. Therefore, before you move, you should declutter your home and sell or donate anything you no longer require. As you are sorting through your belongings, ask yourself if you need or love each item. If the answer is no and you haven’t used it in 2 years, it is usually safe to part ways.
Recycle Odd and Ends
Recycling isn’t just for cardboard and plastic. If you find items like old electronics, dead batteries, and empty ink cartridges that can’t be donated or sold, don’t reach for the garbage bin just yet. These can get dropped off at electronic recycling centers or retailers with recycling programs, such as Staples and Best Buy.
If you find you have a lot of odds and ends that are too worn to donate, then consider an All-In-One Zero Waste Box from Terra Cycle. You can put anything you can’t normally recycle in this box, from worn sneakers to office supplies. After it is full, you send it off through the mail with its pre-paid label and Terra Cycle will sort it into the appropriate recycling bins.
Upcycle Old Clothing
If you find clothing during decluttering or packing that are torn or worn beyond repair, cut it into cleaning rags. This way, you can nix the need for paper towels when doing a final cleaning or your old home or an initial cleaning of your new one. To make the cleaning process extra eco-friendly, you may also want to try products like castile soap and vinegar or other eco-cleaning products to get the job done.
Eat Down the Pantry
Stop buying groceries about two weeks from your moving date and begin to eat whatever you have on hand. The fridge and freezer should take priority, but noshing through your dry goods is also encouraged. This method usually requires making some stir frys and having a few meals with some odd combinations, but who says you can’t have pancakes and salad with a side of pickles for dinner? Eating down your pantry before your move will ensure that food doesn’t go to waste and will also leave you with less to transport. If you have been working on transitioning your household to zero waste, this also provides an excellent opportunity to shop plastic-free with bulk methods or using the farmers’ market when you rebuy.
Learning to pack boxes efficiently can reduce emissions since it will require fewer boxes, meaning less trips. Plus, it can also mean less waste and save you money on packing supplies. Ideally, you’ll want to ensure all sides of a box are cushioned and use a mix of light and heavy items to balance out the weight. The box should also get packed tight enough so nothing has room to slide around. If stuff is moving around and the box is at its maximum weight, you need to add more cushioning or rethink the contents.
Put Aside Silverware
Put aside a fork, spoon, and knife for each family member before the kitchen gets packed up. Moving usually involves eating out a few times before the kitchen gets unpacked and this can save you from using plastic cutlery. You may also want to pair these with reusable straws and compostable plates.
Consider a Moving Truck
If you’ve decided to tackle your move without professional movers, then you should at least look into a moving truck. A moving truck may feel unnecessary—especially if you are only moving a couple of blocks away—but it can save on emissions. One load with a moving truck will take less gas than multiple car trips. You may also be able to find a moving truck that uses biodiesel instead of traditional fuel, which burns cleaner and will lower the environmental impact further.
Dealing with a long-distance move? Map out the shortest route to ensure you use the least amount of gas possible. You may also want to schedule your drive through busy areas outside of rush hour to avoid getting held up in traffic.
As you can see above, moving doesn’t have to put a damper on your eco-conscious lifestyle—unless you let it. All it takes is some mindful planning to ensure your move falls in line with your eco-efforts.