Sustainability and moving to a new home are not often heard in the same sentence. But, in a quest to live in a way that is kinder to the planet, there are some steps you can take do it as sustainably as possible.
Moving house is often the complete opposite of a sustainable (or fun) activity. Items are often discarded in a rush as people struggle to pack up the entire contents of their homes. And whether you are cross country moving to live in a new state or just relocating to a new neighborhood, there are plenty of opportunities to be eco-friendly.
A house move is a new beginning, making it an ideal time for you to make a fresh start with sustainability in mind. If you are keen to make your house move as sustainable as possible, we’ve got some tips to help.
Eco-friendly packing materials
Flatpack cardboard boxes, packing tape, and rolls of bubble wrap are surprisingly expensive. They’re also pretty bad for the environment, so looking for sustainable alternatives is an excellent idea.
Instead of buying flatpack cardboard boxes, use any already at home that can be repurposed. Check with your neighbors and ask your local supermarkets. Shops are usually happy to hand over empty cardboard boxes, so this is an excellent way to repurpose boxes that were going to be recycled anyway.
You can also invest in reusable totes—some are made from upcycled plastic and can be used many times, unlike boxes.
Your moving company may also have a better price structure for used boxes. Wardrobes are typically offered on a used basis, for example.
Some items will not even need to be placed inside boxes. Dresser drawers, for example, can be removed and transported with the items in situ.
For the fragile items you have to pack, forego the bubble wrap—unless you have some in the house already. Instead, try wrapping these items up in clothing, towels, and bedding—it’s an eco-friendly alternative and a great way to pad out your boxes. Plus, it reduces the overall volume of boxes because you’re reducing the bulk taken up by bubble wrap or other protective materials.
And when you’re done with your move, be sure to recycle your boxes properly. Or, better yet, pay them forward to someone else on the move. If you want to keep them for your future move, be sure they’re stored someplace dry. It’s best to flatten moving boxes for easy storage. It also keeps them from being damaged or losing their structure once they’re needed again.
Declutter before you pack
One of the more frustrating things about moving house is realizing you have way more stuff than you actually need.
Many people find items that they had forgotten about entirely during the packing process. Seeing how much stuff you own and how little of it actually gets used can be a wake-up call, and you may vow to change your buying habits for the sake of the environment.
A house move is an ideal time for a serious decluttering session and to scale back your belongings—even if you’re moving to a larger home.
Sorting through your items and deciding which items you plan to sell or give away to charity can be a cathartic experience. Knowing that other people will get use out of items that you no longer need is a great way to reduce waste and marks the perfect beginning to your new start in your new home.
Try the Marie Kondo method of determining whether or not products spark joy for you as you pack. In the case of clothes or linens you may plan to get rid of, save them to use for protecting fragile items during the move as noted above. Then make a trip to your local Goodwill after the move to donate those items.
Need to get rid of toxic chemicals, electronics, or batteries? Check with your local waste services about the best places to dispose of these items responsibly.
Look for eco-friendly movers
Believe it or not, eco-friendly movers exist. Whether they’re using biofuels or recycled materials, or taking steps to reduce the tape and other wasteful materials, there are a growing number of fleets dedicated to making your move as sustainable as possible.
Doing it yourself? You can also rent biodiesel vehicles to reduce your impact. Even for a local move, this can make a difference.
Even if a more sustainable vehicle isn’t an option, be sure to rent a truck or van big enough to take all of your belongings in one trip. Reducing the need for going back-and-forth will help make your move more sustainable and more manageable.
Offset once you’re settled
Moving to a new home is an excellent opportunity to start out sustainably. There are a number of things you can do to offset your move and keep your impact low.
For one, be sure to use LED light bulbs in all fixture lighting and lamps. It’s an easy way to reduce your energy use and keep your costs down. Another way to do that is to get in the habit of unplugging appliances like toaster ovens and coffee makers when not in use.
Never composted before? Now’s the time to get a kitchen composter or a backyard bin. Some cities will take your food scraps in the green bins, making it easy to keep food out of landfills.
Be sure your new home is properly insulated—whether you’re buying or renting. Cracks can easily be sealed and storm windows will help to keep your energy costs down. You can also use window tints and curtains to keep the temperature cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
Get your fingers in the dirt.
Whether you’ve got a yard, a porch, a patio, or a balcony, planting trees, flowers, or even house plants, helps offset the carbon your move put into the atmosphere.
Plants produce oxygen for your home, purify the air, and are an easy, fun way to decorate. Ditch the clutter before you move and fill the empty spaces with gorgeous house plants, instead!