Most of us have to move homes from time to time. Depending on the reason for your move and your goals, this could introduce you to a bigger, nicer house, an interesting new neighborhood, and/or more financial opportunities in the future.
Unfortunately, moving can also have a significant negative impact on the environment. If you want to remain as eco-friendly as possible, it’s on you to devise and execute strategies that can help you minimize this impact.
Spend Time Decluttering
First, make sure you spend some time decluttering your existing home. Ideally, you’ll start doing this before you even look for a new house. This can help you minimize your environmental impact in a few different ways:
- Reducing your moving load. Reducing the number of items you’re moving will reduce the total weight you have to move. This, in turn, can reduce the number of trips you need to take and the burden on the vehicles you’re using – which means you’ll directly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If you’re moving across the country, this is especially important.
- Reducing your need for storage space. If you convert to living a minimalist lifestyle or if you significantly reduce the number of items you possess, you can get away with living in a smaller home. Smaller homes tend to use fewer resources, setting you up for a greener lifestyle once you’re done moving.
- Responsibly eliminating old materials. After living in a house for some time, you’ve likely accumulated some items you don’t know how to dispose of properly – like old electronics or hazardous materials. This is your chance to dispose of them responsibly.
Here’s how to go about it:
- Gift and donate. Go through your old things and gift and/or donate what you can. If you have an item that’s in reasonably good condition, see if any of your friends are interested in using it. If not, consider dropping it off at a local donation center.
- Reuse and recycle when possible. Next, try to reuse or recycle materials when possible. For example, can you transform an old piece of furniture into a work of art? Can you recycle those old glass bottles?
- Rent a dumpster (and learn how to use it responsibly). Only after you’ve gifted, donated, reused, or recycled what you could, you should consider renting a dumpster for any items that are no longer usable. Make sure you review the rules for using the dumpster properly – and don’t dispose of any environmentally harmful items in it.
- Dispose of hazardous materials carefully. Things like electronics, acidic compounds, gasoline, oil, dyes, fertilizers, cleaning supplies, and aerosol cans can all be harmful to the environment. Make sure you learn how to dispose of them properly.
Next, spend time packing intelligently. Your move has the potential to waste a lot of material and take up landfill space – but this is easily preventable.
One of the best strategies is to use your existing possessions to facilitate better packing.
- Baskets, laundry hampers, boxes, and buckets. Chances are, you have several items around the house that can function as temporary storage, such as baskets, boxes, buckets, and laundry hampers. Make good use of them!
- Suitcases. Do you have a set of suitcases? Fill them up, rather than buying new packing materials.
- Reusable bags. Make use of any reusable bags you have and consider using garbage bags as well; you can always reuse the garbage bags for actual garbage at a later date.
- Clothing, towels, and blankets. Packing peanuts and bubble wrap can keep your fragile items secure – but so can clothing, towels, and blankets. Use them wisely to reduce your dependence on packing materials.
For everything else, consider:
- Plastic storage bins. Plastic products are generally frowned upon in the eco-conscious community. However, these can actually be valuable; not only can you reuse them as a form of long-term storage, but you can also make sure you buy products that have been made from recycled materials themselves.
- Cardboard boxes. Cardboard is easy and inexpensive to recycle, so don’t be afraid to load up on some cardboard boxes for items that don’t fit in your existing storage options.
- Green packing material. If you do need extra packing material, try to find biodegradable packing options.
Hire the Right Moving Company
Finally, review your moving companies carefully. Some moving companies make a deliberate effort to minimize their environmental impact, and some attempt to offset their carbon emissions by planting trees and making donations to environmental causes. Be sure to ask questions if you can’t find information directly on their website.
Reducing your environmental impact to zero is practically impossible, especially if you’re moving across the country. But with these responsible practices, you can minimize your impact – and feel better about your transition.