Twenty-three years ago I packed my little Bronco II and headed down Interstate 80 to start my college adventure at the University of Iowa. Little did I know, my packing process would set me up for several eco-friendly moving experiences later in life.
Since finishing my degree, I've moved four times and still have many of the durable, plastic storage totes that I used in that initial relocation. Now, they serve as waterproof storage bins in my basement, ready for any future moves.
Cutting Down on Moving Waste
If you're preparing to move, take a cue from my college days and invest in reusable storage totes. Cardboard boxes can be convenient, but buying them new or chucking them at the curb can be a huge environmental cost. I chose sturdy plastic boxes with hinged lids (so they wouldn't get lost between uses) and secure closures to minimize the risk of a spilled box during transport. After each move, I simply stacked the totes and used them later for storage.
I tucked my kitchen and bathroom supplies, clothes, and smaller items inside the totes. Instead of using bubble wrap or paper towels to protect the breakable items, I used clothes and towels. Thick winter sweaters and coats provided ample cushioning for larger items while small things were tucked inside socks and gloves—saving on bubble wrap, newspaper, and those pesky styrofoam peanuts. If you're moving with kids, matching coffee mugs and glass bric-a-brac to appropriately sized socks and towels can even be a fun task for little hands.
On the outside of each tote I wrote a list of the contents inside. Try using a dry erase marker to eliminate the need for labels or tape. Later, wipe off the words and start over!
As a side note, a move is the perfect time to declutter and reduce the amount of items you own. This translates into fewer car trips or a smaller moving truck, which saves on fuel usage and time spent actively moving. Donate unused items to a shelter, local charity-based resale shop, or hold a rummage sale and use the income to offset moving expenses.
Staying Green After the Move
If you've already started packing and have several cardboard boxes filled, good for you! But after you unpack, be sure to pass them on. You can put a notice on any of your social media channels to see if your friends or family would like the boxes for an upcoming move. If not, you can drop the boxes off at the local recycling center.
As you settle into your new home, use washable rags and eco-friendly cleaning products to tidy up the space. A homemade mixture of 1:1 white vinegar and water with a few drops of essential oils is good for disinfecting most solid surfaces, including sinks, tubs, and toilets.
Finally, top the eco-friendly moving process off with a digital announcement to cut down on paper waste. Whether you do a group text or mass email, everyone will learn your new address and enjoy viewing a few photos without the hassle or waste of paper and stamps.
We'd love to see a photo on Instagram of you and your eco-friendly moving process. Is your recycle bin overflowing? Is your grandma's china wrapped in socks? Tag us @TomsofMaine and use the hashtag #GoodMatters to share a few green moving tips of your own!
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Why It’s Good
Reducing unnecessary waste when moving makes the process easier and greener. Choose durable, reusable storage items and recycle the rest. You'll end up with less clutter around your new home and teach the kids a thing or two about being resourceful in the process!