Moving your household can be exciting, but anyone who has ever done it will agree that it’s stressful, too. Most people are too busy dealing with their own stress during a move to think about it, but relocation is also very taxing to the environment. Moving all that stuff takes a lot of energy, and adds significantly to your household’s carbon footprint. Plus, all those boxes, packing material and tape add up to a lot of waste.
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the stress of a move for both you and the planet. Here are a few tips for eco-friendly moving that can help reduce the financial cost of a move while making it easier.
The more possessions you have, the more energy it takes to move. Fuel efficiencies vary by model, but a heavier load in the same truck will definitely burn more fuel — especially for cross-country moves. What’s more, don’t forget about all the effort it takes to pack, load and unpack all that stuff!
The bottom line is, the more items you can get rid of before moving, the easier, cheaper and eco-friendlier your move becomes. Pitching your belongings can be hard, so use this rule of thumb: If you haven’t used it within the past year, and/or if it doesn’t bring joy into your life, you probably don’t need it. Have a garage sale or list it on Craigslist. Or, just donate it to Goodwill or another charity, and let it bless someone else’s life.
Use Re-Usable Boxes
Many moving companies now offer sturdy plastic totes you can rent for a few dollars a week instead of cardboard boxes. They can be re-used hundreds of times, saving huge amounts of energy and water. Since most cardboard boxes end up in the landfill after a move and many are reinforced with plastic tape, these boxes actually help to keep plastic out of the environment. They also make packing and transporting your belongings a snap.
Use Existing Items as Packaging Materials
Packing peanuts, bubble wrap and other cushioning materials usually get tossed after a move. Most of these things are not biodegradable and will kick around in the environment for years. Plastics and Styrofoam can even end up in the ocean, where they can be very harmful to marine life.
Instead of using throwaway packaging materials, consider using pillows, towels and other household items to cushion your valuables. You’ll cut down on waste and save money!
Ditch Your Appliances
Fridges, ranges and other large appliances take a lot of costly space on a moving truck, and they’re heavy. Did you know that many new appliances will pay for themselves in energy savings in a few years? Why not leave your appliances or sell them before moving, especially if you’ll be moving a long way? You’ll save the hassle, reduce the environmental impact of your move, and treat yourself to clean, new appliances for your new home.
Speaking of clean, cleaning is an inevitable part of moving. Now is a great time to get rid of any toxic household cleaners you may have been storing in your home or garage. Moving with them is a bad idea, since you don’t want to have to deal with them spilling on your valuables in transport. Be sure to inventory these items well in advance of your move; many have to be disposed of through your local household hazardous waste location, which may have restricted intake dates.
Replace these toxic items with eco-friendly cleaning supplies. These days, it’s easy to find non-toxic commercial cleaners that work as well or better than conventional ones. Or, make your own earth-friendly cleaning items from baking soda, vinegar and other common ingredients.
Whether you are moving across town or across the country, or even overseas, you will probably find that eco-friendly moving practices aren’t just for the benefit of the planet. Many of the above tips will save you money. You may even find that they simplify your move enough to reduce the stress on moving day!
Author bio: Kim Schachtele is Director of Consumer Sales at Berger Allied, an agent for Allied Van Lines. Throughout her 13-plus years in the moving industry, Schachtele has held many positions — ranging from inside sales to most recently managing Berger Allied’s new call center. Schachtele is a member of the National Association of Senior Move Managers (NASMM) and the Professional Sales Association (PSA).