Moving is the worst. It’s exhausting, expensive, and guaranteed to make you cry at least once. (Twice, if we’re being real.)
It’s also pretty wasteful, when you consider all the packing supplies you need to transport your stuff and the old junk you’d rather leave behind. But there are steps you can take to reduce the impact of your move. Start with these seven tips.
Donate items that won’t be making the move
In the packing process, you’re bound to come across things you no longer need, or even knew you had. (How did you manage to stockpile six Outer Banks sweatshirts?) Keep a few tote bags handy so you can collect items for donation. These charities would love to have them.
Host a garage sale
Want to make back some of your moving costs? Sell off extra items at an old-fashioned garage sale or the garage sale of the internet, Craigslist.
Use towels, newspapers, and scarfs to cushion your breakable items
When you’re packing up a bunch of fragile dishes, it’s tempting to reach for the packing peanuts. But those little foam pieces are tough on the environment. They’re made with fossil fuels (in this case, petroleum) and take ages to break down. Although some companies are now manufacturing biodegradable peanuts (bubble wrap, too), reach for what you already have. Scarfs, towels, blankets, and shirts all make excellent buffers for your glasses. You can also wrap breakable stuff in old newspapers — just be prepared to wash a bunch of ink off your dishes once you’re in your new place.
Reuse cardboard boxes
You’ve already sunk so much money into a new security deposit and movers, so why should you plunk down another $20 on brand new cardboard? Instead, give used boxes a second life. Scour under your bed and through your closets for any old boxes you can repurpose. Text your friends to see if they have any spares, and browse Freecycle for options in your area. If you really want to score big, hit up your local businesses. They have tons of old shipping boxes taking up space in their shops. Liquor stores and grocery stores are usually your best bets.
Recycle what you can
Some things won’t qualify for the donation bin or Craigslist, but they don’t have to go in the trash, either. Recycle whenever and whatever possible. Scan your items for recycling symbols — if you’re not sure what they all mean, here’s a guide! — and make sure to break down those cardboard boxes for collection at the end of your move.
Call in the eco-friendly professionals
If you’re hiring people to help you move, do some research before you choose a company. Movers like Gentle Giant and Movers Not Shakers have built sustainability right into their business practices. They reduce, reuse, and recycle — and some of them power their trucks with biodiesel fuel. You should also check out JunkLuggers, a junk removal service that picks up your old stuff, sorts it, and then ferries over whatever it can to charity partners and recycling centers. They’re especially handy for city dwellers, who can’t easily drop an old couch at Goodwill.
Keep a few glasses or steel bottles in an easily accessible spot
After you’ve hauled everything into your new home, you’re going to be thirsty. All the nice people who helped out will be, too. So keep a few glasses or your steel bottle in a handy spot. That way, no one has to run out for a pack of plastic water bottles and everyone stays hydrated.