Every action that we perform affects the environment. Even moving house has some negative impact on the surroundings. Items which are hazardous are disposed off un-thoughtfully, dumped in the trash. Toxic fumes are released when household items are transported to a new home or office. The packaging material may not be used ever again, when they can be reused. To avoid all of this, and to protect the environment from the effects of moving, here is a complete guide to help you in moving sustainably.
Complete guide to moving sustainably
Make a list
Start planning your move well in advance. Take inventory of all the items in your home and write them down, so that you remember the things you want to take with you and the things which you no longer want to carry to your home. For example, you may have two or three of the same things, when you only use one, so you can give away one of those.
We accumulate a lot of things in our homes over time – we buy things which catch our eye when we go out shopping, and sometimes completely forget about them. This is true for clothes as well as décor items, endless stationery or kitchen items, footwear – the list goes on. Gifts you have received but never used. It is only when you plan to move to another home that you realize you have so many unwanted things in the house.
So while moving sustainably, you have the opportunity to make a list of all the items which are lying unused in your home, and either sell them or donate them or get rid of them responsibly. You can sell and donate almost anything offline or online. Sell/donate all excess stuff such as unwanted clothing, craft supplies, construction materials, furniture, cutlery, utensils, rugs, cushions, carpets, books, extra gardening tools and even pots and plants which you cannot take with you. Your kids would definitely understand if you donate to charity all their toys that are just kept inside their stuffed animal storage.
Declutter in an eco-friendly way
The moving process begins when you start listing out the items in your present home which you do not want to transport to your new home or office. The first step is to reduce the number of items to be moved. There are two advantages to this. You will have a smaller shipment to be transported which will need a smaller vehicle and fewer trips, thus reducing carbon emission from transport. The other advantage is that you will have to pay less for a smaller shipment than a bigger one. So moving sustainably reduces your cost of moving also.
Send items for recycling
There would be items from your home which can be recycled. Instead of dumping everything in the garbage, be selective in throwing out your unwanted items. Things made from paper and plastic can be recycled. Carpets, rugs and curtains can be donated to be reused again. Electronic products such as old laptops, computers and TV can also be recycled. Send as many items for recycling and reuse for your eco-friendly move.
Find e-waste programs which offer electronic recycling.
However, there are some things like broken refrigerators, defunct laptops, busted lawnmowers and TVs which no one wants. When you get rid of these things, do so by hiring a company which offers to dispose off your items in designated places. Check their credentials before giving your items otherwise if they dispose of illegally, then they would be an environmental hazard.
In countries like the UK, if the name of the owner is found on the dumped products paperwork, then he or she can face legal action from the government, with 12 months prison and fine of 50,000 pounds!
Using the right packaging material is imperative, otherwise it leads to a lot of trash. Many packing materials are reusable, such as cardboard boxes, butcher paper and so on. Use recycled moving boxes to be even more eco-friendly. You could ask your friends and family, and even your neighbors if they have packing boxes left over from their move which you can use and then pass it on. You could use social media to list the items which others can reuse.
If you do not find anyone to give cardboard boxes too, you can return them to the moving company. Most moving companies accept cardboard boxes of all sizes and shapes.
There are some moving companies which use plastic boxes as well as bubble wrap. These can be returned to them after the move. Instead of bubble wrap, find a moving company which uses paper wrap as this is strong and biodegradable, in case you have to throw them away later. Some companies use biodegradable bubble wrap so you could request them to use that.
Use household linen to wrap things
Apart from recycled moving boxes, you can make use of the containers as well as wrapping supplies in your home. Use newspaper, junk mail, old linen, towels and so on to pack items which are not fragile. Borrow suitcases from friends and family – you can pack many items in that. Plus, you won’t have to pay for borrowed suitcases, newspapers, bed sheets etc reducing your bill for moving.
To protect your valuables such as TV, artwork, furniture, you can use blankets, sleeping rugs and towels to wrap them, rather than bubble wrap.
Clean your home sustainably
When you leave your present home or office, you want to clean it up for the next tenant or owner, so that they have a clean space to come to. But many cleaning supplies emit VOCs which are harmful for environment, pets and humans. These volatile organic compounds are known to cause allergies and respiratory problems for people and pets.
Avoid chemical cleaning supplies and use eco-friendly cleaning supplies which are just as effective. Even vinegar is a better choice, so is soda mixed with water. When you bleach certain areas of the house, use only the required amount and ensure that the area is well-ventilated.
Dispose of toxic chemicals in a safe manner
There would be chemicals and solvents which you might have been using. Perhaps you might have been using eco-friendly cleaning supplies all along. In that case you can take these with you or leave them or dispose of them in a green manner. Otherwise, the eco-friendly move would help to get started on buying eco-friendly cleaning supplies and gardening supplies.
If you have any leftover paint, propane, pesticides or other hazardous chemicals, consult waste disposal expert/s to find out the safest and greenest method to dispose these.
The actual moving involves the use of vehicles, whether you send your items by car, van, plane or boat. All of these vehicles emit toxic greenhouse gases into the environment. As we mentioned earlier, a smaller shipment means less trips and smaller moving vehicle has less emissions. Try to reduce the number of things that you want to take to your new home as much as possible.
Do your research and find a moving company which uses eco-friendly moving materials, such as green bubble wrap, reusable packing boxes, recycled cardboard boxes and so on. There are green movers and packers who use eco-friendly transportation.
Choose the most direct route to the new home, as this will reduce the fuel used while traveling.
Keep the quoting process simple
You have to ask for quotes from several moving companies before you can finalize or decide on one company. Before a large number of companies come and troop around the house, you should do your research offline and online. Check for their eco-friendly credentials, what kind of materials they use for packing, do they have eco-friendly vehicles and so on. Do read the reviews and maybe choose the one which has good reviews.
Reducing the quote process online will help to reduce the emissions of the company professionals too, as fewer of them will visit and thus there will less carbon emitted to the atmosphere by their vehicles. It will save time and fuel too.
Don’t pack all the cutlery and utensils
It’s a given that you won’t have time for cooking during the moving process. You can use a lot of plastic disposables till that time. To avoid the overuse of paper plates and plastic forks and spoons, keep a few of the plates and glasses out. Pack them last in just a bag which is handy and you can immediately use them when you move to the next house. You won’t be able to cook for quite some time, but tell the food delivery people not to deliver plastic disposables to you. If you forget to keep some cutlery and flatware out, reuse the plastic forks and spoons. And buy biodegradable disposables.
With a little planning, thought and care, you can make every step of the moving process eco-friendly. It’s time to rethink your possessions and take the chance to declutter your home and move to a new home with things which you cannot do without. Reuse packing material and give it to others to be used again – the chain can continue till the boxes can be sent to be recycled or disposed of sustainably.