Organize a Green Move with These 7 Handy Tips

By Dawn Allcot

Mounting TV Even if you try to be eco-conscious on a daily basis, you may find that moving destroys your best intentions. The average household uses 60 cardboard boxes during a move, and if you buy them from a moving company, they are probably brand new. Add in packing materials, fuel for your trip, and all the items you throw away prior to your move, and you’ll see how damaging simply changing homes can be. But it doesn’t have to be! We have compiled some tips to help you organize a greener move.

1. Reduce the number of items you have to pack and move.

That old cliché for going green – “reduce, reuse, and recycle” – holds true in a move. The less you have to move, the fewer boxes you’ll use and the fewer trips you’ll make, burning less fuel. Start by looking for ways to reduce clutter with a yard sale or give items away to friends who can use them. Donate anything that’s left to your local Goodwill Store, the Salvation Army, or the VA. If you have old electronics, such as laptops, monitors, or portable hard drives laying around, you can donate them to Staples for recycling and even receive store credit. If you have extra food you aren’t bringing with you, you can donate it to a local food pantry. Cans of food are heavy, but relatively inexpensive, and fill boxes and space in the moving van.

2. Collect used boxes and packing materials.

There’s no need to buy new boxes from the moving company when you can score free boxes from friends, liquor stores, or on Craigslist. Start saving boxes and packing materials about six months before your move, if possible. You’ll do something good for the environment while saving a few hundred dollars, the average cost of buying boxes from movers or a moving van rental company.

3. Get creative with your packing.

Don’t pay for packing materials when you can use household items as added padding. Wrap pots and pans in dishcloths, use pillows for padding, and wrap picture frames in towels or blankets. Be sure to write an inventory on each box so you know where to find these items when you unpack. Use any bags, totes, or luggage you have to pack clothes. For seasonal items and sporting goods, consider investing in plastic totes, which you can reuse for storage after the move.

4. Choose green moving materials.

Some moving companies offer reusable plastic crates for rent if you’re moving locally. You may also want to ask your mover about biodegradable packing peanuts and other alternatives to foam and bubble wrap.

5. Ask about moving trucks that use bio-diesel.

Many moving companies now have trucks that use bio-diesel to reduce carbon emissions. If you’re hiring movers, ask about this important step toward a green move. A green moving company shouldn’t cost more than competitors and you can feel good about your decision in going with an environmentally conscious team.

6. Choose the best routes.

If you’re renting a moving van, or moving with your own vehicle, map out the shortest route between your old home and your new place to reduce carbon emissions. Try to travel during off-peak times to avoid stop-and-go rush hour traffic, which results in lower gas mileage. Make sure you fill your truck to capacity so you can make as few trips as possible. Your gas mileage may suffer slightly for the heavier load, but you won’t burn as much fuel as you would by making multiple trips.

7. Choose green household cleaners.

Now that everything’s packed in eco-friendly containers, it’s time to clean up your old place, as well as your new one. Choose eco-friendly cleaners to avoid putting dangerous toxins in the air. Store-bought brands of green cleaning products have dropped in price in recent years, but also consider using items you already have. Vinegar and baking soda can make your stainless steel surfaces sparkle. Vinegar and water put a streak-free shine on glass and mirrors, especially when you use newspaper to scrub the surfaces clean. To leave your home smelling fresh for the new residents, sprinkle baking soda on the carpet and then vacuum it up.

From a Green Move to a Greener Life

Now that you’re all settled into your new home, see if you can give those moving boxes away to someone else who needs them. (Or find some creative uses for those old boxes: here’s a list of 501 ideas.) Replace conventional bulbs with LEDs, and install a programmable thermostat to regulate temperature and conserve energy when you’re not home. If you just purchased a home, ask your new utility company about rebates for upgrading to energy-efficient appliances, or even about how you can save money by leasing solar panels for your new home. You’re off to a great start, and your green move can be the first step toward a greener life.