Approximately 35.1 million Americans move every year. Though many consider it far too stressful of a process to even think about keeping it sustainable, it’s actually surprisingly easy to incorporate a few eco-friendly practices into your moving process to minimize waste and prioritize sustainability. Here are just a few ways to help you reduce, reuse, and recycle while you relocate.
Use the containers you already have.
Though you’re bound to need a few cardboard boxes to pack your belongings, try to make the most of the containers you already have in your home. So before you seek out additional containers, fully pack all of the suitcases, duffel bags, dresser drawers, reusable shopping bags, and other containers around your home. Today the world makes and consumes about 600 billion pounds of plastic yearly, and many homeowners have additional plastic storage containers to make transporting your belongings simple and safe.
Of course, to get the most from this tip, you’ll need to think about how you pack in addition to what you pack.
“If you have an item that can fit other things inside of it, fill it up before packing it. For example, line your small bathroom trash bin with a fresh garbage bag and use it to store items from under your sink. The more you can fit in containers you already have, the more you can avoid having to rely on purchased moving boxes,” writes Laura Mueller on Moving.
Get creative with packing materials.
The last packing material you want to use during your move is those styrofoam packing peanuts. Little do most homeowners know, they’re virtually never necessary. What you can do is use your clothing, linens, and towels to cushion some of your more fragile items, like your television or dishware. As long as you pack a few layers of clothing in between the container and the items, you can prevent damage to your belongings and to the environment.
Before you throw anything away, donate everything you can.
Downsizing is an inevitable part of the moving process. Ideally, you’ll be able to start the process of going through all your belongings several weeks in advanced so that you don’t have to rush. Either way, don’t throw anything away that you think someone else could still get some use out of. Whether you drop it off at a local donation center, recycle it, or give it to a family member or friend, there’s no reason it should end up in the trash if it doesn’t have to be.
In addition to your personal belongings, this also applies to any materials you may have leftover after performing any home repairs prior to your move, for example, painting. Studies have shown that levels of several organics average two to five times higher indoors than outdoors, and when inhaled they can contribute to several health problems. With that in mind, don’t just let your extra paint end up in a landfill contributing toxins to the environment. Give it to someone who’s in the middle of their own home improvement project. If you have enough to give away and you have the time, a yard sale is a great way to downsize while bringing in some extra cash.
Consider hiring a ‘green’ moving company.
Finally, there are countless moving companies that have been making an effort to incorporate sustainable practices into their business plans. According to a 2011 report, 86% of consumers will pay more for a better experience, and though these services may sometimes cost a bit more, it’s well worth it to limit the impact you’re having on the environment.
“A green moving company will use trucks that run on biodiesel fuel instead of traditional gas and can also help set you up with reusable moving boxes so that you don’t have to worry about going the cardboard box route. Search reputable movers…and choose a mover that has a proven dedication to keeping the Earth clean,” writes Mueller.
What other ways have you kept the Earth in mind during your move? Tell us in the comments!