By Julie DeLong, A-1 Freeman Moving Group
Even the most ardent recycler is faced with mountains of packing materials when you're moving--there's just so much stuff it takes to move your stuff. If you're appalled at the amount of wasted materials it takes to get your family to a new home, here are some ways to lessen your moving footprint.
For most of us, we learn the most horrifying thing about ourselves during a move--that we are secret hoarders. We keep literal junk around the house, and face it, nobody really knows why. Home organization experts recommend seasonally purging your house--after the holidays, recycle or donate the decorations and wrapping supplies that never came out of the boxes. Likewise, at the end of your child's sport season, give outgrown gear to someone with younger children who can use the gear in an upcoming season. After a few rounds of this it will become second nature and you'll have a lot less to move when the time comes.
Use What You Have, Or Can Get Free
Sure, you can spend a small fortune in wrapping and packing supplies. Instead, why not use what you've already got? Here are tips for reusing what's lying around the house.
- Newspapers can be used for wrapping. Start saving papers and ask your neighbors to do the same. If there's ink residue when you unpack, just wash the item, which you were going to do anyway, then recycle the paper.
- Ratty t-shirts, old towels, and linens make wonderful insulation for lots of things--small appliances, shoes, toys, and non-fragile doodads. You can use them whole or tear them into strips for small things.
- Forgo buying moving boxes and head for the liquor store--for their boxes. Depending on the state you're in, they are either free or cost just pennies each. These boxes come in a huge variety of sizes and are frequently reinforced (full bottles are heavy) and are good for oddly-shaped and heavy things. Most can be recycled when you're done.
- Look around your house with an eye towards packing and you'll find lots of packable things--not just tote bags and coolers. For example, wrap your flatware in a strip of old t-shirt and put it in your roasting pan. Pop on the lid and you've packed the silver without having to use paper, a box, or tape.
Rather than buy plastic wrap for things like mattresses and furniture, use natural materials. Old flannel sheets can protect furniture as well as plastic (assuming it's not precipitating on moving day), and you can buy yards and yards of plain muslin for about a dollar a yard at most big box or fabric stores--and a yard is at least five feet wide. Wrap mattresses in the muslin and tape the ends together. A fabric drop cloth works as well as muslin for furniture. You can also rent padded blankets from a local moving company for valuable furniture.
Rent Your Moving Boxes
Yes, you can rent moving boxes. These are heavy duty, reusable, plastic totes that will come right to your door, and you send them back once you're unpacked. Check with your moving company to find out if they rent boxes.
Sell or Donate Last Minute Leftovers
Even with meticulous purging, there will be things that you just don't want to move. Sell or donate those items. Most non-profits will pick up anything you're donating, and there are tons of websites for online selling--from tried and true eBay to neighborhood-specific sites.
In addition to the tips above, hiring an environmentally conscience moving company is a must. So, don't be bashful about asking professional movers what they are doing to reduce their carbon footprint.
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