Living an eco-friendly lifestyle doesn’t stop at certain tasks, it can be applied to every situation. If you’ve moved before, you know that moving requires a lot of materials. But there are ways to protect be conscious of the environment throughout the moving process without adding additional stress. The average American moves 11 times in their lifetime, which makes it all the more important to adapt a greener moving process. That’s why we created a guide to help you along the way. Let’s get started.
1. Start by decluttering (with a green eye of course!)
It’s very likely that you’ve accumulated some home items you no longer use or need on hand. Before packing everything up, thin out what you need to take with you. This will allow you to have more space, and also save you some money during the move.
When decluttering, avoid bagging everything up and dropping it off at your local landfill. If you have a considerable amount of time before you begin packing, sell as much as you can. You can then use this cash to help fund the move. Whatever doesn’t sell (or if you don’t want to deal with the bartering process), donate anything that is in good condition. Anything that doesn’t fit the criteria to donate or sell should be recycled or properly disposed of.
2. Gather reusable containers and used boxes
Before purchasing an entire supply of cardboard boxes from a mover, take inventory of what you have on hand that can be re-purposed for the move. Each container you use can both minimize your carbon footprint and save you money on a cardboard box. While you can get creative, here are some items that can help get you started:
- Plastic bins
- Suitcases/Duffle/Beach bags
- Laundry baskets
- Reusable grocery bags
- Trash bags
- Waste baskets
- Trash cans
Even those who live frugally or are relocating studio apartments will likely need more containers than the list above to move all of their belongings. If you don’t have any used cardboard boxes on hand, reach out to your family and friends who would have otherwise sent their boxes to the trash. In addition to your network, check Craigslist and your local grocery stores and restaurants for free boxes. While cardboard boxes are typically made from recycled materials, it’s important to avoid buying new when you can as there are significant amounts of energy, water, and other natural resources that can be saved.
3. Collect natural packing materials
Plastic wrap and packing peanuts aren’t the only materials that can protect your fragile possessions. You just need to put on your thinking cap and find packing materials you have around your home. This can save you a considerable amount of money and also reduce the amount of waste at the end of your move. Everything below can be used to pad your fragile items during the move:
- Blankets, sheets, comforters, sleeping bags
If you’re limited on soft items, ask your friends and family. However, if you’re uncomfortable doing so, newspaper is also an efficient packing material that is free and can be recycled in a residential bin. Don’t use newspaper when packing delicate surfaces, as the print can leave ink stains.
4. Contract an eco-friendly moving company
With more companies adapting sustainable business practices, you’ll have no problem finding eco-friendly moving companies in your area. How do you know if a moving company is eco-friendly? Ask the questions below.
- Do you use bio-diesel for your moving trucks?
- Do you use a GPS to plan the quickest and fuel-efficient route?
- Do you use eco-friendly packing materials when operating packing services?
- Are your packing materials biodegradable?
- Do you buy back unused packing material or offer recycling for excess of supplies?
5. Reuse or recycle any leftover cardboard boxes
Once everything is unpacked, how you handle the leftover moving materials is critical to whether your move was successful sustainable or not. Gather all of the cardboard boxes and break them down carefully in order to extend the longevity of the box so it can be reused. For example, use a razor to cut the tape instead of tearing it off, as this can damage the box and make it difficult to reuse.
10 ways you can reuse the cardboard boxes
- They can be great for keeping things organized in your storage areas.
- Flatten them for floor protection from leaky cars in the garage or paint projects.
- Lay them on a table for crafting with the kiddos.
- Cut cardboard backings to place inside your photo frames to prevent pictures from drooping inside the frame.
- Use them to package gifts for special occasions, birthdays, or holidays.
- Kneel on them for gardening or any renovation projects to save your knees!
- Create a self-recycling bin or compost for your garden.
- Kill the weeds in your yard by laying them flat over weed-filled areas. Then cover the cardboard pieces with mulch so the weeds have no access to heat or sun.
- Let your kids use them to their imaginations. They can create a cardboard fort, puppet theater, costumes, castles, or mazes. Some companies even offer wardrobe boxes with designs the kids can cut out after the move. Your pets can get in on the action too – cats love to play and sleep in cardboard boxes!
- Use them for numerous school projects or creating makeshift poster board.
7 ways to sell or get rid of used boxes
- Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, or LetGo
- Buy back programs
- Local recycling
- Friends that are moving
Every choice we make impacts our environment and the air we breathe. Take the initiative to adapt greener life choices after the move too! It just takes one to influence someone else to make a positive change.
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