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10 steps for an Eco-Friendly Move
Step 1: Plan ahead
Sustainably is unfortunately not the norm in the moving industry. That means that making your move as eco-friendly as possible means planning even further ahead than you would for a typical move. Allow yourself extra time to look for eco-friendly moving companies, source sustainable packing materials, research recycling opportunities, and more. You’d be amazed at how much planning ahead can save you in terms of waste, disorganization, and buying things that you already have but can’t find. Strategically pack up your home so that everything you will need leading up to your move stays out of boxes — eliminating the need for you to repurchase items that have been packed away.
Step 2: Look for Eco-Friendly Movers or Transportation
Some moving companies have seen and embraced opportunities to create more sustainable practices within their industry. Whether by using more fuel-efficient moving trucks, launching tree-planting initiatives to offset their emissions or other green practices, it’s now possible to hire a moving company based on the sustainability of their business.
When looking for a green moving company, beware of marketing that’s full of eco-friendly buzzwords. Instead, ask these questions to assess moving companies:
- Do you have any references that can speak to your sustainable practices?
- Do you use reusable moving boxes and supplies?
- Do you use biodegradable packing materials?
- How do you ensure you can complete a move in just one trip?
- What other practices make your company more sustainable than others?
- If you’re planning a DIY move without the help of professional movers, you can also find ways to make transporting your belongings more green. Rather than taking multiple trips in your own car, rent a truck so you can move everything in one trip (even if the truck is less fuel-efficient, this will typically be the greener option
Step 3: Sell or Donate Unwanted Belongings
Rather than throwing away items you don’t want to bring with you when you move, spend the extra time and effort to sell or donate them. This helps reduce landfill waste created by the moving industry.
Step 4: Research Recycling Options
For unwanted items that can’t be sold or donated, see if recycling is an option. Many organizations can help you recycle old electronics, worn-out clothing, furniture, and other unexpected items.
Step 5: Use Eco-Friendly Packing Materials and Strategies
One of the most harmful aspects of a move is packing materials, the most common of which contribute to deforestation and single-use plastics. By seeking out eco-friendly packing materials and using packing strategies that minimize environmental harm, you can make your move more eco-friendly.
- Look for rentable, multi-use plastic moving boxes. Our SmartPack system utilizes rentable boxes and bins that can be used for a move and then returned for more households to use in the future.
- Using this system will reduce cardboard waste by an average of 80%.
- Source free boxes from local stores or reuse moving boxes from a previous move.
- Look for biodegradable packing supplies (like packing peanuts made from cornstarch rather than Styrofoam).
- Use clothes, sheets, linens, pillows, and blankets as cushioning for fragile items rather than plastic bubble wrap. Even recycled newspapers or magazines can be a more environmentally friendly choice.
- Pack inside storage bins, baskets, drawers, totes, suitcases, and other household items so you can use fewer cardboard boxes (and create less waste) during your move.
Step 6: Pack the Kitchen Last
Packing the kitchen even just a few days before you move can mean creating unnecessary waste from takeout, paper plates and cups, and plastic cutlery. Try not to pack the kitchen until the last minute, so you can still use your own belongings for cooking and eating.
As you pack your kitchen, be mindful of the food waste you’re creating. Plan ahead for your move by meal planning and shopping deliberately so you won’t end up with a lot of perishable food that needs to be thrown out. See if Move For Hunger or another similar organization operates in your community — they will pick up and transport non-perishable food items to a local food pantry.
Step 7: Avoid Unnecessary Trips Back and Forth
Fuel is, unfortunately, not very eco-friendly. This means that the more trips that you have to take back and forth to your new residence, the more impact you are going to have on the environment. Avoiding unnecessary trips and cutting down on driving between your old and new home is another way to have a green move. Can your issue be solved by calling the landlord? What about the neighbors? If you can avoid unnecessary trips, you will be able to cut down on fuel and other emissions.
Step 8: Clean with Green Products
When you move out of your old home, you’ll typically need to clean it thoroughly. Instead of using chemical-filled cleaning products in single-use plastic containers, consider eco-friendly, sustainable alternatives. Green cleaning supplies are a booming business, so there are many options now available. Or, you can DIY some homemade cleaners using common household goods.
Step 9: Store belongings with a neighbor
If you need storage while relocating, consider the most eco-friendly self-storage there is: Free space in a neighbor’s home. Connect with a neighbor in your community to store your belongings safely and affordably.
Step 10: Recycle Moving Supplies Once the Move is Over
Green move over and done, avoid simply disposing of moving materials that you no longer need. Chances are someone else could get good use out of your moving supplies, so post on Facebook or Offer Up about your moving supplies.
After Your Move: Making Your New Home Green
It’s one thing to move sustainably. But as you’re unpacking and settling into your new home, you can use the change to embrace some eco-friendly new habits. Here are seven steps you can use to make your new home green as you arrive, unpack, and settle in.
7 Steps for Making Your New Home a Green One
Step 1: Buy Used Furniture
Rather than buying new, look for second-hand furniture and other household goods that you can reuse in your new home. Thrift stores, consignment shops, and online marketplaces like Facebook and Craigslist are all great places to search for gently used belongings.
Step 2: Embrace a More Minimalist Lifestyle
Moving is also a great time to declutter and downsize. Once you’ve pared down your belongings, try not to buy a lot of new ones for your new home. Living a minimalist lifestyle means less waste and consumerism, which can be better for the planet.
Step 3: Use Eco-Friendly Home Decor
There are many ways to be more green when decorating a new home. Using eco-friendly paints is a great starting point. Avoid decor made of plastic or other unsustainable materials. Invest in locally made furniture rather than mass-produced pieces from big-box stores.
Step 4: Invest in Energy-efficient Appliances.
If your appliances are old, it might be time to upgrade. Many modern appliances are far more energy-efficient than their older counterparts. Not only are they more eco-friendly, but they could save you money on energy bills in the long term.
While thinking about energy efficiency in your home, don’t limit yourself to just appliances. Consider installing solar panels to generate your own energy. Invest in rechargeable batteries for small appliances and electronics. And make sure all the lights in your new home use energy-efficient LED bulbs.
Step 5: Create New Eco-Friendly Habits
A move is a big change. Use this time to embrace some other changes that will make your home and habits more sustainable. For example, make sure you understand how to take advantage of recycling programs in your new community. Conserve water with drought-resistant landscaping. Plant a garden and grow some produce.
Step 6: Go Paperless.
When changing your address to your new home, take the extra time to sign up for paperless billing and communications from any entities that regularly send you mail at home.
Step 7: Help Make More Moves Eco-Friendly with a Neighbor
Congratulations on making a more sustainable move. Now, it’s your turn — help others in your community move sustainably by renting out free space in your new home with Neighbor.
Top Rated, Highly Recommended
We used Beltway Movers to move all of our furniture and most of our other belongings into storage for more than three years and to move those belongings back into our house. We're very satisfied with every aspect of our dealings with Beltway Movers.
- David F October 21, 2021
They were so quick obviously. They were very nice and helpful. And my wife specifically liked how they would talk out loud about their own safety and about protecting the walls and floors. Very amiable. Loved the experience!
- Eric D. August 9, 2021
I found Beltway Movers to be nice, friendly, efficient, professional, and just awesome. They went above and beyond the tasks I requested. And Tim (the driver) was amazing. If I ever had to move again, I wouldn’t even think of hiring anyone but Beltway Movers. They are the best, without a doubt.