Moving often involves stacks of boxes, bubble wrap, plastic wrap, and many other items that typically end up in the trash bin, creating additional waste. However, with careful planning, packing and moving homes doesn’t have to be a wasteful process. These five tips will help you make your move more sustainable.
What Is a Sustainable Move?
A sustainable move, also known as a “green” move, is when you make choices during your moving process to give back to the community and prevent unnecessary waste from entering landfills. Sustainable moves differ from conventional moves in that:
- The supplies you choose are made in ways that produce as little waste as possible and are often compostable, recyclable, and reusable.
- Instead of throwing away unused or unloved possessions, you find ways to donate them to the community or recycle whenever possible.
- Your moving company goes the extra mile to use sustainable practices like biodiesel for fuel and energy-conserving warehouses.
Now, let’s take a look at how you can make your upcoming move more sustainable.
1. Use Recyclable Moving Supplies
All kinds of 100% recyclable packing materials are available to replace traditional packaging supplies and help keep neighborhoods cleaner and greener. A few recyclable supplies include:
- Boxes: The best thing about boxes is they can be reused time and time again. Stop by your local moving company to see if they have any used boxes for you to buy at a discount. Some moving companies will even give you a refund for returning your used boxes at the end of your move.
- Packaging paper: Look for 100% recycled packaging paper or—better yet—reuse your own post-consumer recycled paper.
- Saran wrap: Conventional saran wrap is made from plastic that is too thin to recycle. Instead, try out compostable cling wrap; it’s made from plants, making it biodegradable.
- Bubble wrap: Yep, there is even biodegradable eco-bubble wrap—you can pop away guilt-free.
- Packing peanuts: You can use biodegradable packing peanuts made from cornstarch or wheat instead of plastic peanuts.
- Tape: Even your packaging tape can be made sustainably with recycled paper.
2. Choose Your Moving Containers Wisely
Plastic containers are a thing of the past. Some sustainable companies offer moving box rentals, which they deliver straight to your home. When you’ve completed your move, they pick up the sturdy plastic storage containers so that you don’t have to figure out what to do with all those extra containers around the house. The best part is that, for every storage container you rent, there’s one less piece of plastic or cardboard box gone to waste.
3. Donate Lightly Used Items
As you clear out your closets, garage, and pantry ahead of your move, you’ll likely have a stack of your 10-year-old’s toddler clothing and all those cans of tuna and soup you bought before the last winter storm. But don’t toss those items in the garbage. Here are a few ways you can donate:
- Clothing and household items: Give back to your community by donating clothes and other knick knacks to your favorite local charity or thrift store.
- Furniture: Charity shops like Habitat for Humanity ReStores and some thrift shops will take donations of old furniture.
- Canned and non-perishable goods: Local food banks, religious centers, and charities are always looking for food to donate to those in need.
4. Be Kind to Your Electronic
You may no longer want your retro microwave, but that doesn’t mean you have to put it on the curb or throw it in a dump. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), electronic recycling is one way that you can conserve natural resources. Keep in mind that one million laptops contain the same amount of energy as the electricity used annually by 3,500 U.S. houses. On the same note, one million cell phones contain recoverable amounts of the following materials:
- 35,000 pounds of copper
- 772 pounds of silver
- 75 pounds of gold
- 33 pounds of palladium
To avoid wasting resources from your devices, recycle or donate your old electronics. Look for an authorized domestic e-waste recycler through this electronic recycling directory so that your unwanted computers, microwaves, phones, and other electronics are recycled under strict environmental laws in the United States, rather than being shipped elsewhere.
5. Hire a Moving Company With Sustainable Practices
When you hire a moving company near you that uses sustainable moving practices, you’re making an active effort to support and encourage local businesses that care about their environmental impact. Here are a few questions to ask your moving company about sustainable moving practices:
- Does the staff recycle?
- Are the offices and warehouses designed to be energy efficient?
- Does your company use biodiesel to run their trucks? If so, what kind of effort is the company making to offset the fuel usage?
- Do they use 100% recyclable materials?
- Do they sell used boxes? Do they buy them back at the end of the move?