Moving to a new place can be the thrilling beginning of a new chapter in life. But let’s face it, nobody loves the moving process. Packing everything you own into boxes, hauling it to a new location and reestablishing a homestead is a hassle and a chore. We all know moving is stressful on a person, but the entire process can also take a toll on the environment. From cardboard to cleaning to travel and shipping, there are tons of little ways to make re-locating a bit more environmentally friendly.
Moving demands a certain kind of supplies. We need boxes to put items in and protective wrapping to secure our breakables. We need tape, and labels, bags and markers, it seems like you need a whole arsenal of equipment just to empty a house. But the packing materials you choose can help you avoid adding to the growing problems with our environment.
Don’t buy boxes. There’s no reason for it when boxes can be procured in plenty of places. Re-using boxes is so much kinder to the environment than purchasing virgin materials. Try hitting up your friends, family and local retailers for whatever boxes they may have lying around. If a new neighbor moved in, take the opportunity to welcome them to the neighborhood and ask for their extra boxes. They’ll probably be happy to get rid of them. You can also search on Craigslist for anyone in your area that may have just finished a move and is now looking to unload boxes. Then when you are done with the boxes, pay it forward and post a listing for “Free Boxes” to help someone else out. You can also look into renting non-card board boxes or using a moving company that is card board free.
Some things can just be piled in boxes but other things need a little protection. But before you buy materials that aren’t so green like Styrofoam or bubble wrap, see if a more creative solution will work for you. Sometimes simple items from around the house like sheets, towels or sweatshirts can be useful. And if you run out of textiles, then newspaper generally work just as well. Ok, so it may not cut it for the fine china, but newspapers are so accessible in bulk that they are generally sufficient for most things.
After the packing and before the un-packing, there’s tends to be a ton of cleaning to do. But before you haul out the usual cleansers, think about going greener with your cleaning. Look for products that are biodegradable, non-toxic, and made from renewable resources. If you’re really hardcore, you can even make your own cleanser. It may not smell like lemons or pine trees but vinegar mixed with baking soda and warm water can clean most any surface. If you do have or use cleaning supplies that aren’t organic or non-toxic make sure to dispose of them properly. Tossing them in the trash only transfers the chemicals from your house into a landfill. If you decide to employ a cleaning service, look for one that utilizes green cleansers and practices.
Give Away, Don’t throw Away
When you’re moving from an old place into a new one, it’s easy to trash everything. But it only adds to the clutter piling up in our dumps. Why not recycle instead? I don’t mean just traditional recycling with the green bins. But garage sales, Good Will, the Salvation Army, Craigslist and Ebay are a great way to unload your unwanted belongings without adding to a growing pile of trash. In some cases you can collect a little extra cash. And the stuff you give away may make you eligible for a tax deduction, and even if not at least it’s good karma.
The transportation part of moving is another area where a few simple decisions can make a difference. If you are hiring movers, start by looking for a company with a green philosophy. Many moving companies utilize bio-fuels, recycled padding, smart logistics and/or cardboard alternatives for packaging. All of these things can have an impact on how green your move can be. A moving company that uses the smallest possible trucks and the most efficient routing is always a better choice. If you can, try to find a moving company that purchases voluntary carbon offsets. If you are moving yourself, consider purchasing carbon offsets on your own to neutralize the carbon footprint of your move.
Moving day is hard on everyone, but it doesn’t have to be equally hard on the planet. Maybe you won’t save the world by re-using your mom’s old card board boxes or turning in your Lemon Pledge for Simple Green. But it’s the little things that each of us can do that will determine whether or not we a civilization can reverse the damage we’ve caused. Each tiny effort from every individual can add up to a world of change.
Jade is a writer for uShip a shipping marketplace featuring cross country movers and other moving services. Jade has been blogging and writing regularly for the last few years. She has also spent a great deal of time studying simple ways to go green.