Sometimes moving is inevitable.

It might be a new job, family emergency, or wanderlust that sends you packing up boxes and stuffing them into a U-Haul. No matter what, moving is an often tedious process you want to complete as quickly and painlessly as possible.

While you’re scrambling to collect your things and check all the boxes, you may not realize that your move affects the environment.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, transportation is the leading contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Since 1990, carbon dioxide emissions have increased more from transportation than any other sector.

While moving undoubtedly contributes to a larger carbon footprint, there are some steps you can take to make your move more eco-friendly.

This article will provide 11 tips for an eco-friendly move. We’ll show you small (and easy) steps you can take to move with Mother Earth in mind.

How Does Moving Impact The Environment?

Transportation pollutes the air, but what’s the extent of the damage?

Vehicles account for ⅕ of the United States’ CO2 emissions. Even if you’re sitting idle in traffic, every gallon of gas that burns adds nearly 20 pounds of greenhouse gas into the air.

These gases exit our vehicle’s exhaust pipes and enter the atmosphere, eventually accumulating and increasing temperatures. The gases don’t just evaporate – they reside in the atmosphere for decades, while daily pollution continues adding to the problem.

This atmospheric temperature increase – known as global warming – will cause the following long-term effects:

  • Growing seasons will lengthen
  • Storms will strengthen and intensify
  • Sea levels will rise as Arctic ice melts
  • Precipitation patterns will fall out of balance
  • Drought and heat waves will become more frequent

In response to these frightening projections, countries worldwide signed the 2015 Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep the global temperature increase under 1.5°C.

Unfortunately, global warming has continued to worsen – further intensifying our need to reduce emissions on an international scale.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Working Group II Co-Chair Jim Skea responds to the crisis by saying: “It’s now or never if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C; without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.”

On top of the transportation aspect of moving, the process involves a lot of waste. Whether you use countless cardboard boxes or rolls of bubble wrap to transport your things, these materials contribute to landfill buildup.

11 Ways To Make Your Move Eco-Friendly

Now that you know more about how transportation and pollution affect the environment, you can plan an environmentally conscious move.

Although going green takes effort, it’s not difficult, and the changes are well worth it.

The following sections will provide you with tips for making your move as eco-friendly as possible.

Plan in Advance

As simple as it seems, planning your move can help reduce the risk of unnecessary travel and waste.

Before you start throwing knickknacks into cardboard boxes or piling clothes into trash bags, stop and consider how you can consolidate your belongings into as few containers as possible.

You’ll use fewer paper and plastic products and simplify your unpacking process.

Declutter Before You Begin Packing

Decluttering before packing will reduce the number of boxes you have to tote between homes. It will also save you a lot of effort when packing and unpacking.

You don’t have to give away your most prized possessions. Instead, think about which belongings you no longer use.

Assess your closet and set aside the items you haven’t worn in the past couple of months. Throw out trinkets, toys, or books you haven’t touched in ages.

A rule of thumb is that you probably won’t miss an item if you haven’t thought about it in a while.

Donate What You Don’t Need

Decluttering doesn’t have to mean throwing things in the trash.

Give your unused clothes, books, furniture, and dishes a new life by donating them to a charity. You’ll reduce the number of boxes you must transport while helping a cause.

Plan ahead by checking your city’s website for nearby donation stations and charities.

Even if you opt to donate old clothes to a thrift store, you’ll contribute to the battle against fast fashion – an industry that produces 10% of global carbon emissions.

Here’s a list of five charities that pick up donations for free.

Use Clothes to Wrap Fragile Items

Reduce plastic waste and avoid using additional packing materials by wrapping fragile items in clothes, bath towels, or blankets.

You’ll save money on bubble wrap and packing peanuts that you’ll inevitably throw away after the move. These plastics end up in landfills, polluting the soil and water supply as they decompose.

You’ll avoid adding to this issue while protecting delicate picture frames, dishes, and vases during transport. Plus, you’ll be using linens and clothes you have to move anyway.

Use Any Storage Items You Already Own

Significantly reduce the need for cardboard boxes by utilizing your existing storage items.

Leave clothes in the dresser to simplify unpacking. Pack books and office supplies into desk drawers for the move. Then, store fragile items like dishes in containers you already have on hand.

Get creative with your storage. Even a trash bin can serve as a moving container for cleaning supplies, paper products, or gardening tools.

Consider Your Recycling Options

Once you’ve decluttered your collection and donated old clothes and books, you’ll probably find you still have a lot of things that need to go.

Instead of throwing items away, see if you can recycle them.

Most cities provide guidelines for what you can recycle. Check your local rules and dispose of unwanted items accordingly.

You’ll reduce your moving load while preventing your unused items from winding up in a landfill.

Use a Green Moving Company

Some moving companies do the work for you when planning an environmentally conscious move.

If you’re hiring someone to handle your move, look for eco-friendly companies that practice sustainable habits.

Research local movers that consolidate trips, recycle moving containers, and pack with biodegradable materials.

Keep a sharp eye out for companies that fuel their moving trucks with biodiesel.

This non-toxic, biodegradable substance is a much friendlier option than traditional gasoline. Using biodiesel instead of petroleum reduces greenhouse gas emissions by over 80%.

Go to a Local Store for Boxes

If you don’t have any moving boxes on hand, you can avoid buying new ones by asking a local store for extras.

Many retail and grocery stores have countless cardboard boxes they’re trying to get rid of. They’ll likely give you the boxes for free instead of having to break down and dispose of them.

Start by asking your local supermarket. The store might have used fruit or wine crates that are sturdy enough to hold heavy items through your move.

Minimize Your Number of Trips

After planning out your packing list, decluttering, and organizing your items into different containers, you still have to get your things from Point A to Point B.

Minimizing your move to one or two trips is the eco-friendly way to go.

Something as simple as transporting bulky items and furniture on a tow-behind trailer can reduce the number of trips between homes.

You’ll ultimately pay less for gas and reduce your time on the road.

Pack Dishes and Silverware Last

You know it’s crucial to pack light and stay organized, but did you know that packing items in a specific order can make your move more eco-friendly?

We suggest packing items like silverware and dishes last.

Our cabinets are typically the first thing we pack. It seems logical to place heavy dishes and loose pieces of silverware at the bottom of a sturdy box.

However, packing these items first makes them harder to access when you arrive at your new home. Without easy access to plates, cups, and silverware, you’re more likely to turn to packaged foods, takeout containers, and plastic silverware.

Recycle Supplies Once the Moving Process Is Complete

Keep the environment in mind even as your move comes to a close.

Assess the disposable materials you used in the process and recycle them if possible.

Avoid throwing away any plastic bags, cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, or packing peanuts. Take them to a nearby recycling center or donate them to someone else who is moving.

Committing to Reducing Your Carbon Footprint

While these steps may seem minimal, every action has the potential to impact the environment.

Take steps toward making the impact a positive one – even changing a small aspect of your daily routine can significantly reduce your carbon footprint.

If everyone takes steps toward more environmentally friendly habits, we’ll collectively make strides toward reducing climate change.

After all, each of our carbon footprints accumulates to affect the climate on a global scale.

Moving With Intention

We hope this article gives you ideas for eco-friendly moving.

Even if you can’t realistically take these steps for your move, you can hire a company with built-in green habits. Hopefully, it will take the hassle out of the process while minimizing any adverse effects.

If you’re handling the move yourself, remember that less is more. Simple steps such as decluttering, recycling, and getting creative with packing can make a huge difference in your move’s environmental impact.

You’ll finish the process with fewer items to unpack and more time to settle down in your new home.


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