Between the stacks of plastic bins, mounds of packing paper, rolls of bubble wrap, and takeout containers, moving homes is usually far from being an eco-friendly activity.
And while it may seem like a few moving boxes and some bubble wrap can’t have such a big environmental impact, when you multiply it by 30 million—the approximate number of annual moves in the USA, according to census data—you can see how it all adds up.
Thankfully, the future of moving doesn’t have to be wasteful. For all those looking for how to live zero waste, the solution is to embrace simple and environmentally friendly moving practices that will cut down on waste. And as a bonus, these solutions can even help you save money.
If you want to make your next move eco-friendly, we recommend that you start with these simple, yet sustainable moving tips.
Wondering what eco-friendly packing materials you could use for your green moving?
You can reduce the amount of plastic and paper you need for packing—or eliminate it altogether—by opting to use eco options instead.
Pack with Newspaper
Start saving newspapers and weekly flyers to pack your boxes. If you don’t get the newspaper yourself, ask friends or relatives to put some aside for you.
Keep in mind that you will need quite a few of them since all sides of your box should be cushioned, and all gaps should be filled, to prevent shifting.
Use Egg Cartons
Egg cartons aren’t just great to hold eggs but they can also help the environment.
How? Use them to cushion boxes, or to create a barrier between items to keep them from rubbing together.
Cushion with Fabric
Another way to reduce your carbon footprint when moving, is by cushioning your boxes with clothing, sheets, linens, and towels. Fabric is a better shock absorber than paper, and chances are you have an abundance of them sitting right in your home. Plus, you have to pack these items anyway!
Wrap with Socks
Socks are particularly great for packing fragile items. They can be used to sleeve mugs, glasses, small figurines, etc.
Cover with Blankets
For eco-friendly moving, skip the bubble wrap or the packing peanuts, and use a blanket to cover your furniture instead. If you are worried about your blankets getting damaged if used as furniture covers, you can also rent blankets from moving companies or select hardware stores.
Alternatively, you may want to consider picking up a few at a thrift store for this purpose, and re-donate them when finished.
Opt for Biodegradable or Recycled
If you still need extra box cushioning or wrapping material, opt for sustainable packing supplies. For example, another great eco-friendly moving tip is to swap out plastic tape for paper tape.
Concerned about getting rid of bubble wrap? Look for a biodegradable version made from recycled plastic, or a cardboard alternative, like Hexcel.
Can’t find sustainable options where you live, or on short notice?
Don’t sweat it! Just get creative and reuse the packing material when your move is over, to make the most out of them.
Cardboard boxes do not only contribute to the bulk of waste created during a move, but they can also be expensive to buy.
Try these eco-friendly moving box ideas instead.
Rent Reusable Boxes
More movers than ever offer reusable moving box rental solutions now. These plastic totes are much sturdier than cardboard, and in many cases, they are also a cheaper option. You just need to rent them, use them for your move, then drop them off to your moving company..
From there on they are cleaned, and then the next customer gets to use them. This cycle continues about 100 times before the box wears out and gets recycled.
Use What You Have
The most convenient, and affordable eco-friendly moving tip we have for you today is to recycle what you have.
Chances are you have items in your home that can make the perfect makeshift boxes.This may include reusable bags, laundry baskets, suitcases, gym bags, etc.
Suitcases on wheels are particularly useful for moving books or other heavy possessions. That’s because they’re strong and can be rolled, eliminating some of the heavy lifting.
If you still want cardboard boxes, look for used ones. U-Haul runs a Take a Box, Leave a Box program where customers can grab or drop-off boxes for free.
You can also get used boxes from liquor stores, grocery stores, local retailers, online marketplaces, or swap and buy groups.
You probably already have a million things on your moving day to-do list and adding more to that isn’t ideal.
Luckily, there are many ways you can make a few eco-friendly changes that won’t require a lot of extra time or effort.
Rent a Truck
Using a car to make multiple trips instead of renting a truck can add up not just in time, but also in emissions. Renting a truck and doing one load is often more fuel-efficient than multiple car trips.
Look for Biodiesel
Trucks that run on biodiesel are more eco-friendly. The good news is that quite a few green moving companies now operate these types of trucks.
A quick tip if you are moving long-distance and you want to be more environmentally friendly is to take a few snacks on the road with you.This can help you eat healthier while you can also skip the waste that comes with fast food.
And if you plan to stop for a coffee-to-go or a similar beverage, try to bring your own cup. These small swaps may not be at the forefront of your mind during your move, but every change makes a difference!
You did it! You made it to your new home.
But although you are finally on the homestretch, your eco-friendly moving doesn’t stop here. There is still cleaning and unpacking to do.
Before giving your new home a scrub down before unpacking, consider using a natural cleaner like vinegar. Vinegar is a multi-purpose cleaner that is safe for both kids and pets. Plus, it can often be mixed with a little baking soda to make a non-toxic scrub for tough jobs.
Don’t like the smell of vinegar?
Try making a scented vinegar cleaner. This can be done by leaving a few orange peels in the bottle or select herbs, depending on what smells you enjoy.
Save Energy with Bulbs
Go through all the lightbulbs in the house and swap them out for LED bulbs. They are far more energy-efficient, don’t give off heat, and last a lot longer than incandescent bulbs.
Keep a few empty boxes or bags for decluttering. As you unpack or in the coming weeks, you may find items that don’t mesh well with your new home or that you simply don’t need. Make sure to donate or sell these items instead of tossing them.
If you did end up with some cardboard boxes, think outside of just recycling. You can fold them down, and save them for your next move. You can also give them away through an online marketplace, drop them off at U-Haul, or make arts and crafts with the kids.
Between a new home and new opportunities, moving offers a fresh start.
So start this latest chapter of your life off on the right foot by making your moving as eco-friendly as possible. Whether that means using what you have on hand, renting reusable boxes, or finding the right kind of truck, every effort will make a difference for the sustainability of your move and the health of the Earth.
Hope you found our post on eco-friendly moving tips helpful.