Ever wonder how to move your household in an environmentally friendly way? When I made my last move with my boyfriend (from a rental apartment to a storage unit and a temporary living situation to the home we just purchased together) it was a big one – a lot of stuff and a lot of boxes. In typical green puffin fashion, I wanted to make every part of the move as earth-friendly as possible. And like most sustainably minded activities, this meant game planning ahead of time. So what did we do? Check below for a list of ideas.
Before the move:
- Discard items in an intentional way. Nothing generates waste like a move. There were loads of things that we didn’t want to take with us. Rather than toss them in the garbage or simply dump them at the local thrift we tried to connect items with people who could genuinely use them. We did this by listing items on Craigslist for free, selling them through Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist and by putting them out in front of our house with a sign that said “free”. It was helpful for us to start this process a few weeks ahead of time, but we were still getting rid of lots of things just hours before we started loading the truck. So don’t think you can’t use these strategies if you’ve waited til the last minute. You probably can! Many of the items I listed on Facebook Marketplace disappeared within a day… I’ve also got more ideas on getting rid of things in this other blog post I wrote around the time we were moving.
- Collect used boxes. There are loads of places to find free boxes. My favorites are: Supermarkets, Liquor stores, Walmart (midnight at a 24-hour location when they’re restocking the shelves), Craigslist’s free section, Freecycle, Facebook friends, Facebook neighborhood group, Facebook Buy Nothing group
- Collect used packing materials. It’s a good idea to start collecting packing materials several months before you’re going to need them. I collected the free circulars that got dropped at our front door, along with our Sunday paper. If you don’t receive a paper, that’s another thing to inquire with friends and family about. We also collected all the packing material that we received in online shipments for months ahead of time. You can save junk mail, paper refuse, anything that can be crumpled up and used as stuffing.
- Find earth-friendly tape. If your move is short and quick, you may not need to tape your boxes, but if you do, I like to recommend Eco-Enclose for packing materials. They are pretty serious about being eco-friendly. They offer a few kinds of eco-friendly carton sealing tape. Here is a link: https://www.ecoenclose.com/shop/carton-sealing-tape/
During the move:
- Use unusual packing materials. We also used our bath towels, kitchen towels, and some of our clothing as packing material for some items. Anything soft has potential.
- Use blankets and towels as furniture pads instead of purchasing new ones. This did require some careful placement in the moving van, and more care when we took things out.
After moving in:
- Recycle your boxes when you’re done with them. We’ve still got a lot of things in boxes, but the ones we have finished with have been donated to a friend who is moving soon. In the past I’ve listed them on Craigslist’s free section or on Freecycle, and they’ve been picked up by another grateful mover. I love the idea of them being used over and over in a wonderful circle of reuse before finally going to the recycle bin.
- Recycle your packing materials. I like to hang on to any plastic or peanut type packing materials for when I need to send a gift or care package.
- Go on a shopping spree when you get to your new place- at the thrift store! When we finally got all of our boxes out of storage and into our new home we realized that we were missing some very key items- a frying pan, a can opener, a spatula, a shower curtain. We hit my favorite thrift stores to purchase what we could. Whatever we couldn’t find at the thrift we tried to buy used on eBay. We did have to buy some things new, but I think we managed to buy 80-90% of the necessary objects for our home used. But why the obsession with buying used? Check out this post for some ideas about the importance of buying secondhand.
- Go without if you need to. There are quite a few things we haven’t purchased yet, simply because we want to go with the earth-friendly option. I’d like to buy our furniture secondhand. And for things like bedding I want to go with organic products when they’re available, which carries a hefty price tag. So we’re savings for these things and taking our time looking for them. In the meantime, we’re making do with what we have and going without where possible.
You don’t have to do everything. If you only manage a few of these steps during your move you’ll still be doing something positive for the planet (and probably for your wallet too.) Good luck to you!