Moving Sustainably: How to Make Your Move Less Wasteful

By Zach Ottenweller

September 24, 2021
The moving process can generate a lot of waste, which is bad for both people and the planet. See what steps you can take to move more sustainably.

After you have found and secured a new home, the moving preparation begins. Getting ready to move can be very overwhelming; there are rooms to pack, old belongings to get rid of, addresses to change, utilities to transfer, and so much more on your to-do list. Whether you are planning on tackling the move in one day or slowly preparing to get into your new space, it can be easy to fall into the pressures of the usual moving tactics, like purchasing cardboard boxes and leaving items you don’t want on the curb for the garbage truck. But do you really want to contribute to the wasteful transition that is the traditional moving process? There are many easy ways to move more sustainably. 


How Wasteful is the Moving Process?

There is a lot more waste created in moving than you think. According to moveBuddha, 900 million cardboard boxes, 8.4 million tons of junk, 345,000 tons of food, 353 million gallons of fuel, 90 million pounds of packing paper, and 30 million rolls of tape contribute to making waste in one year in the U.S. alone. With the current concern around climate change and the effect of peoples’ actions on the planet, it is important to reduce waste as much as possible in many areas of our lives; moving is no exception.


Reducing Waste Before/During Your Move

Declutter & Resell or Donate.

When you move less items, you’ll have less boxes! This will save time, money, and resources. Go through all of your belongings, room by room, and decide what you no longer need. You can even allow friends and family members to go through your give-away pile; you never know if they will want or need something that no longer makes sense in your home. By dropping off your older items that are still in good condition at a donation center or allowing others to pick and choose what they want to keep, you are giving them a new life. 

Donate Unopened Non-Perishables to Food Pantries.

As mentioned above, 345,000 TONS of food is wasted during the moving process annually in the U.S. This could all be used to feed those in need! When packing up your kitchen, make sure to set aside unopened, non-perishable food items to deliver to a local food pantry. Some moving companies even partner with organizations that will do the delivering for you. Contact your moving company before moving day to see if they provide this service.

Use Reusable Bins.

Large, reusable plastic storage bins and totes are a more sturdy and sustainable option than single-use cardboard boxes. If they will be staying with you in the new house, why not use them to pack up? If you don’t already own these kinds of bins, be sure to ask family and friends if they have any you can borrow for the time being; this could also motivate you to unpack sooner. Some companies also offer reusable storage container rentals for the duration of your move.

Reuse Old Shipping Boxes.

Those Amazon boxes sitting in your corner can easily have a second life as a moving box. Make sure to look and see what boxes you have in stock before looking to purchase brand new ones. If you don’t have any lying around, we offer small, medium, and large box kits; only get what you need for the amount of belongings you have to pack.

Fold Smaller Boxes Instead of Taping.

Packing tape is a significant source of wasteful, single-use plastic while relocating. Although some larger, heavier boxes may not stay secure without tape, you can reduce your use of plastic by folding the top of your smaller boxes. Once you master the box fold, you will be able to stack your small boxes with no issues and no tape!

Use Packable Items as Furniture Covers & Box Fillers.

Furniture coverings, like plastic wrap, and box fillers, such as packing peanuts and newspaper, tend to be immediately thrown out after the move. Here are some ideas for things you will need to pack anyways you can use instead:

  • Blankets 
  • Sheets
  • Towels of all sizes
  • Tee shirts
  • Socks
  • Scarves


Being More Sustainable After Your Move

Recycle Used Materials.

A lot of the single-use materials that you had to use can be recycled. Cardboard boxes, paper bags, and newspapers are among the items that are generally accepted by recycling companies. Know of someone else who will be moving soon? See if they could benefit from reusing the items you are finished with!

Invest in Lasting Furniture Pieces.

In order to reduce waste when it comes to large pieces in your home, you often need to start from the beginning. If you invest in good quality items that you know you will enjoy for a long time, you will not need to throw anything on the curb because it fell apart or it doesn’t fit your style. An additional bonus: you will save money you may have used on continual repurchases in the future!

Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products.

Since being eco-friendly has become a huge topic on social media, cleaning without harsh chemicals has become a lot easier. “Clean” cleaning products are now easily accessible; many ingredient-conscious brands are available at your local Walmart or Target. Want to take it a step further? A lot of common cleaning solutions are easy to make yourself. If you aren’t concerned with convenience, try your hand at making your own stain remover or all-purpose cleaner.

Arrange for Recycling Services.

Now that you’re in your new place, you want to start off on the right foot. Make sure you’re able to separate your recyclable items from your trash so that they can be used to make new things. Many local waste management companies now provide recycling services. Contact your local provider to see what options are available for your area. 

Looking to move in the Cleveland area? Moving Buddy makes relocating in Northeast Ohio easy with pay-as-you-go pricing, instant online booking, and boxes delivered to your door. You can rest easy knowing your items are being safely transported and delivered at the date and time chosen by you at booking. Book a move with us today!

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