Make Your Next Move More Sustainable
Moving on your own is a big job, but it gives you more control over every aspect of how your move impacts the environment.
Use Reusable Bags or Bins Instead of Boxes
Ashley Duarte and her partner Drew Milbrath say they felt guilty for all of the bubble wrap and boxes they used in past moves. So, when they relocated from Chicago to Denver in April, they were determined to make their DIY move greener. Instead of cardboard boxes, they used heavy-duty moving bags and heavy-duty totes that they could then reuse or pass on to others.
“The moving bags worked perfectly and they’ve been reused many times,” Duarte says, adding that they continue to use them to store and transport belongings. “The totes were much cheaper and a few of the strap handles broke when we lifted them,” she says. “But I can easily see them being reused as a large duffle.”
Moving containers are also available for rent. Piper says she uses her own suitcases as moving containers and also hired a service called Redi Box during her last move: “I paid about $100 for a rental service to drop off around 25 big, really heavy-duty plastic containers with lids and labels,” she says. The service also picked them back up at a set time after the move.
If you must use cardboard boxes, visit a local pharmacy, supermarket, big-box store, or warehouse club for free boxes that you can reuse to reduce the number that end up in landfills. You can also look for used boxes, bags, containers, and other packing needs on your local Buy/Sell/Trade or Buy Nothing Facebook groups.
Duarte says she skipped the packing materials for her most recent move, opting instead to wrap dishes and other breakables in clothes and towels, a practice Piper also recommends. Uhaul offers customers a wide range of eco-friendly packing materials, and reminds clients stemware can be snugly packed in socks.
Reduce What You Leave Behind
Piper says that many people use moving as an opportunity to decide which of their belongings they’re going to keep and which will they’ll sell, donate, or otherwise discard. This makes moving days a moment of opportunity: Whittling down possessions ahead of time can also result in a cheaper move.
You can donate unwanted but usable belongings to people who need them through the Freecycle Network, or on your local Buy Nothing Facebook group or using the BuyNothing app. You can also turn to charities, including the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, and AMVETS National Service Foundation. Some charities will not accept mattress donations, but Donation Town will help you find one that will, as well as locating charities for all of your unwanted belongings. It also offers pickup service.
For items you want to sell, use Facebook Marketplace or, for more exposure, List Perfectly, which allows you to crosspost items in a variety of online marketplaces all at once.
If you don’t have the time or desire to sell or donate your belongings, companies such as the Junkluggers partner with local charities and recycling centers and will donate, recycle, and repurpose your unwanted stuff for a fee.
“We are striving to eliminate 100 percent of waste from landfills by the year 2025,” says Kristy Ferguson, chief marketing officer at the Junkluggers. (Even if you’re not moving, you can hire them to clean out your attic or basement or remove bulky items.) Some Junkluggers locations also provide moving services.
To reduce food waste, plan meals to incorporate perishables in the days leading up to your move (mac and cheese with ground beef and some old frozen spinach, anyone?). And even if you aren’t a composter, Piper says some areas have composting services that will pick up fruits and vegetables that are past their prime or that you’re unable to use. If one of these is not available, you can often drop off composting scraps at a local farmers market.