Moving is a resource-intensive process, whether just across town or a longer distance. Your time, your money, and all of the brainpower required to organize your kitchen utensils so they make sense on the other end can feel like a major output. But what about the environmental costs required to make it all happen?
There are packing materials. All of the stuff you decide not to take along for the ride. The fuel used to transport your worldly belongings. What’s an environmentally-conscious traveler to do?
Luckily there are ways- plenty of them- that you can go green and keep your moving footprint to a minimum. Here are a few simple suggestions on how you can make your move a bit more eco-friendly.
Use recycled packing materials
Before you start the Big Pack, think creatively about ways you can reduce, reuse, and recycle. Start with suitcases, reusable crates and tubs, and packing vessels you already own. Pack fragile things in towels, sheets, blankets and newspaper, stockpiled ahead of time — just say no to buying huge rolls of bubble wrap or packing paper! Check in with your friends and family to see if anyone has a stash of gently used boxes that you can reuse. Sometimes packing stores will even have a collection of other movers’ supplies available for your use, free of charge- just make sure they’re sturdy enough that they won’t break while being moved. Or? Ask your green movers if they have crates for rent. They’ll drop them off to be packed, then whisk them away when you’re finished. Bottom line: if you plan ahead, you shouldn’t have to buy new boxes.
Oh, packing peanuts
We all know that styrofoam is an eco-no no. But if your belongings demand this kind of cushioning, choose biodegradable peanuts made out of cornstarch. They’ll give the same amount of padding for your fragile items and then dissolve in water, making them a highly eco-friendly moving option.
Sell or Donate Your Leftovers
Moving has the power to catalyze a massive purge, which has more than one benefit: not only will you start your new household with less clutter, but your emissions footprint will be smaller on the road when you can use a smaller truck. Start well ahead of time by going through closets and storage areas to clear out what you won’t be taking with you. Have a yard sale or check out this blog to find out which charity or organizations might pick up your stuff. You can also take a few trips to your local second-hand store with your donations. Most stores will even give you a receipt that you can claim as a deduction on your taxes, and you’ll be much happier on the other end when you aren’t unpacking things you didn’t want to bring in the first place.
Stop the junk mail before it starts
Make sure only the mail you really want follows you to your new home. The USPS sells Change of Address lists to mail marketers, but if you file a “temporary change of address”, you’re left off the list. You can also take it one step further by registering with the Do Not Mail registry. Just “dealing with it” doesn’t have to be the only option.
Cleaning your new home with environmentally friendly cleaning products is another way to make sure you feel happy and healthy in the new space. If your home is being cleaned for you before you arrive, consider requesting that an eco-friendly cleaning service is hired to prevent unpleasant chemical off-gassing or odors. Then stock your own cleaning supplies with chemical-free options, most of which can be found easily at the local market or even large chain stores.
Ask for greener transport
When you’re doing your research on moving companies, check for biodiesel truck options. Companies with larger fleets, or dedicated green moving companies, will be more likely to have these options available to reduce your carbon footprint on the open roads.
Also, inquire about the option to combine your move with someone else if you’re shipping long distance. It’ll save on fuel (one less truck on the road!) as well as save you some money. And if you really want to go the extra mile, consider carbon offsets. There are many, many options out there that you could purchase on your own, or some green moving companies will even help you make arrangements.