How to Make Your Next Move More Eco-Friendly
Despite our best intentions, the process of moving can have a significantly harmful impact on our environment. From the mounds of trash to the unnecessary trips across town, the 40 million Americans that relocate every year are definitely leaving their mark on our planet.
Fortunately, it’s not too late to reduce your carbon footprint. Here are eight easy, eco-friendly ways to achieve a greener move.
Declutter and donate
You can help out the environment long before you even begin packing. It’s pretty simple: the less you need to pack and move the better. Decluttering before you move means you can rent a smaller moving truck and/or take less trips, which will cut down on unnecessary emissions.
Once you determine which items aren’t essential to keep, don’t just immediately toss them in the garbage. If you have the time, you can host a yard sale or sell your items online and add a little cash to your moving budget. Whatever doesn’t sell and is still in good condition can be donated to a local charitable organization of your choice.
Reuse what you already have
One of the best ways to cut down on the amount of moving supplies you need is to get creative. A lot of people don’t realize that many of the items they already own can be used as either a container or a protective cushion. And the best part is that not only is reusing things good for the environment, it’s also good for your wallet!
- Trash cans—Great for holding smaller items from the room the garbage belongs (provided it’s clean).
- Baskets & plastic bins—Depending on the strength of the container, these can be good for anything from small, dense items to light, bulky ones.
- Laundry hampers—Believe it or not, these are also good for carrying clean clothes.
- Buckets & pails—Great for less fragile items from the basement and garage.
- Suitcases & duffel bags—If it’s good enough to travel with, it’s good enough to move with. While clothes are an obvious choice, if your luggage has wheels you might want to consider filling it with heavier things such as books to save your back.
- Grocery totes & coolers—If you’re reading this, it means you probably already use reusable grocery totes. These are great for dry goods, while coolers are ideal for moving any leftover items from the refrigerator or freezer.
- Dresser drawers—No need to empty. Just remove them from the dresser and wrap in a bag so nothing gets lost.
- Bags of any kind—From trash bags to Ziplocs, the variety of things they can hold is almost limitless.
- Newspaper & magazines—This is a pretty commonly used method, but if you know you’re going to be moving soon, stock up on reading material that can be easily crumpled up and used to fill empty spaces. (Just make sure not to use it with items that have delicate surfaces the ink might stain.)
- Socks—While you may cringe at the thought of wrapping your nice stemware in old tube socks, it’s actually a great way to protect small, fragile items. Besides, you’re probably going to wash everything at your new place anyway.
- Blankets & comforters—These are a great option for covering and protecting your furniture during the move.
- Sheets & towels—Use these as an alternative to bubble wrap, or to fill extra space in your containers.
Seek out what you don’t have
Any kind of box will help, from shoe boxes to refrigerator boxes, although the thicker and sturdier they are the better. And while the age of online shopping hasn’t exactly been great for the environment, the silver lining is that cardboard boxes are almost never in short supply.
If you haven’t been collecting, that’s okay too. There are still plenty of last-minute places you can look. Ask your friends and family, especially those who have also recently moved. Call local business and organizations that handle lots of regular shipments of goods. There are even plenty of websites and apps where people either give away or sell used moving supplies for cheap.
Purchase environmentally friendly materials
If you aren’t able to repurpose or seek out enough moving supplies, make sure that what you do purchase is good for the environment. Try to only buy boxes made from recycled cardboard or other materials. Bubble wrap and packing peanuts are notoriously harmful, so look for green, biodegradable alternatives made from cornstarch and vegetable oils.
An even better option is to rent E-crates. These reusable plastic containers are not only better for the environment, but they’ll also save you money and time, as they are larger, more stackable, and significantly more secure than traditional cardboard boxes.
Set aside a set of dishes
While packing well in advance of your move is usually a good idea, there are some things you should hold off on. You wouldn’t wear disposable clothes, so why would you want to use disposable plates, cups, and cutlery? Even if it’s only for a day or two, these can really add up in the landfill.
Set aside a complete set of dishes for each person in the household, as well as any cookware you may need. You should have plenty of time to pack it all up (with the dish towels) after breakfast the morning of your move.
Clean with green products
Once all your things are packed and ready to move, it’s usually time for a deep clean. A lot of cleaning products on the market today contain toxic chemicals you would be wise to avoid. Look for an “eco-friendly” label or check the ingredients on the back. If you’re feeling adventurous, there are even plenty of homemade methods you can try, using combinations of baking soda, vinegar, and water.
Stay green in your new home
Just because you’ve finished moving doesn’t mean your part is done. Have experts come and assess the energy efficiency of your new home. Swap out any incandescent bulbs with LED ones, and don’t forget to unplug appliances and other items when not in use.
If you rent or move often, condense and keep as much of your moving supplies as you can. If you received free packing supplies, return the favor and try to find them another home. And whatever you can’t get rid of, RECYCLE!
Hire an eco-friendly moving company
Arguably the most significant thing you can do to minimize your environmental impact is to hire a moving company that shares your ideals. You’ll have to do some research to determine if the company can truly conduct your move in an eco-friendly way, so here are some important questions to ask:
- What type of fuel do they use?
- Do they offer eco-friendly packing materials?
- Do they consolidate shipments, when possible?
- Will they buy back or recycle excess supplies?
- Do they donate to any environmental organizations?
AAA Movers is a ProMover certified full-service moving company that has been serving Minneapolis, St. Paul, and beyond for over 50 years. Contact us for a free moving quote or to speak to one of our moving specialists about our dedication to environmental sustainability.