Moving Toward Sustainability by Moving Sustainably

Image courtesy of ambor &

Image courtesy of ambor &

Does anyone look forward to moving?  Sure, it’s exciting to think about getting a fresh start, moving to a new home, perhaps a new city, but does anyone look forward to the actual PROCESS of moving?  Certainly not me.  So, when it was time for my family to move, I did what any responsible, mature adult would do. I put my head in the sand for a while.

When I finally came up to breathe, there was surprisingly still some time to plan how to move without making a giant footprint.  Now that the move is over (except for those last few boxes which will undoubtedly come with us to our next house) I can see which plans worked well, which didn’t work at all, and what opportunities we missed completely.  I’m going to share some tips with you.  Please let me know what you find helpful, and other things you have done that worked well for you.

This is a trick I learned long before living green was my goal.  Being a starving student, living cheap was my motto.  Buy boxes?  Who would spend the money on this when the local liquor store will give them to you for free?!?!  This is a great way to reuse as well.  After the move, there are several options for the boxes.

  • Recycle: Just set the boxes out at the curb with your regular paper recycling.
  • Reuse: Chances are you know someone else who is moving and could use the boxes.  Send them over.
  • Re-purpose: Boxes were made for storage, and you could probably use some cheap storage solutions in your new home.  Use your boxes.  If you don’t want your new home to look like a liquor store, take some old fabric and attach it to the boxes. Voila. Now you have re-purposed two things!! You can go to a local thrift store to find some sheets or curtains to use if you purged your old fabric in the move.

Lighten Your Load.
Of course when you move, it is a great time to pare down. Get rid of those broken items you’re never going to fix, all of that hand me down furniture, and maybe even a box or two that never got unpacked the last time you moved.  Or maybe you just want to update your look.  There is nothing wrong with any of this, but don’t just put it all down to the curb for the trash collectors. Here are some options.

  • Recycle: Old papers, boxes, plastics, and metals can go out with the recycling in many areas.  For all materials that cannot be picked up, check out ecopoint for drop off locations.
  • Resell:  Make some money while you move. Try a yard sale, consignment store, or pawnshop and let your trash become someone else’s treasure.
  • Donate:  Donation is a great option if you don’t have the time or energy to resell your items.    Many charities will come to your home to pick up old furniture, clothes, and other household items. And, keep your donation receipts; they will help you at tax time.

Energy Audit.
I didn’t even need to do a formal energy audit in my new home to find the big problem areas.  The winter wind blows right through my windows, and the HVAC is older than I am. – I could keep going, but you get the idea.  We’ll be tackling these issues in the months ahead. But what about those areas that are not so obvious? An energy audit will help you sniff these out and prioritize where to start that will save you the most energy and money. You can hire someone to come in or you can do it yourself.

Et Cetera.
A few things I learned along the way…

If your new refrigerator doesn’t dispense water, buy yourself a water filter pitcher right away.  This will eliminate the temptation of the bottled water.

Paper plates and plastic cups are NEVER the answer!!!  If you must use disposables, at least use compostables.  Even if you don’t have a working dishwasher, it really doesn’t take that long to wash a dish or two.

Save yourself the expense and waste of take-out.  Take some time to cook and freeze meals prior to the move, so you can just reheat.  Or, you can use the move as a great excuse to try a meal preparation company.

I hope these ideas will help you have an easier, greener move.  Do you have any other tips?  We’d love to hear them.

~ Amy


One thought on “Moving Toward Sustainability by Moving Sustainably

  1. Nicole McGovern

    Great ideas! having just moved, and having a loadddddd of boxes in my garage, it is a timely post. I found out that the moving company I used will take used boxes and give them out to people who need them! Great idea huh?

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