The average American moves 11.4 times in his or her lifetime, making a substantial environmental impact. If you want your next move to be environmentally-friendly, you can reduce your carbon footprint by planning for a “green” transition to your new residence.
Here are some tips for an environmentally-responsible move:
Don’t move what you don’t need. Sort your items into piles of what to donate, what to recycle, and what to toss. Your “toss pile” should only include items that you can’t use, donate, or recycle.
Use online resources to help you find charitable organizations, like Goodwill, Veterans for America, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and local schools, libraries, thrift shops, and animal shelters. You can also find electronic recycling centers at E-cycling Central and TerraCycle for guidance on recycling everything else.
Hazardous Materials Are a No-No
Some of the items you will be moving may be harmful to the environment. These materials are prohibited by Federal law to be moved by professional moving companies because of the high-risk of fire, corrosion, explosion, or serious damage during transport. Hazardous items include:
- Gasoline, Kerosene
- Motor oil
- Pesticides, Fertilizers
- Paint, paint thinners
- Cleaning supplies
- Aerosol cans
Give these supplies to neighbors or friends, if usable, and follow the instructions on the rest of the items to dispose of them without harming the environment.
You are likely to need specialized moving boxes for wall art, computers, TVs, and fragile dishes, but for everything else, you can reduce the number you’ll need by using containers you have, including:
- Plastic bins
- Dresser drawers
- Gym bags and duffel bags
- Reusable grocery totes
- Buckets, baskets
- Laundry hampers
Save shipping boxes you receive during the year to reuse. Purchase used moving boxes from your moving company.
Don’t pack empty containers — for example, pack small bathroom items in a clean trash bin with a fresh garbage bag liner. Fill a laundry hamper with items.
White, unprinted newsprint paper is best for wrapping items when packing, but you can also use towels, linens, even clothes to safely wrap up items for packing. Socks are great for padding glassware.
Green bubble wrap (with up to 40% recycled content) and green packing peanuts (made from vegetable oils and cornstarch) are available as alternatives. You can also purchase boxes made from recycled cardboard.
Leave the Kitchen for Last
Once all your dishes and flatware are stored away, you will be forced to use plastic or paper plates, cups, and utensils. A better option is to leave out just enough kitchen items to get you through moving day. Then you can pack them and mark them “Open First” so you have them available to use when you arrive at your new home.
After the Move
When your move is complete, packing paper and boxes can be recycled. You can offer free packing materials on Facebook Marketplace or Internet yard sale groups. If you do use plastic packing materials, use a site like Recycle Finder to dispose of them at a recycling drop-off location.
Ask your movers if they will pick up your used cardboard boxes for recycling. You may want to keep some of the strongest cardboard boxes to repurpose for storage in your new home.
There are many ways to impact the environment in a small way. Following these guidelines will make a significant positive influence and can be the start of an on-going environmentally-responsible lifestyle in the years to come.
If you have concerns about eco-friendly moving, call a professional moving consultant at Ayer Moving & Storage at 1-800-233-MOVE. They will be happy to discuss how they can help make your move “green.”