In 2016, just over 11 percent of Americans moved, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Whether you are moving around the block or across the country, you may be able to help reduce the waste associated with packing up and relocating. Here are some tips that may help make your move more eco-friendly.
Only pack what you need. Before you start packing for your move, bring old TVs, computers, cellphones and other electronics and household appliances to a center that specializes in recycling those items, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends. Many retailers and local communities will recycle these products. You can find an electronics recycling facility in your area on this e-cycling website, which is run by the Telecommunications Industry Association.
It’s also a good idea to donate your old clothes to charity or sell them at a yard sale, HGTV suggests.
You may have more packing materials on hand than you realize. Consider packing belongings into suitcases and plastic bins, using pillows to help protect breakable items, HGTV recommends.
Ask if your movers have reusable plastic bins and crates that you can rent for the move, St. Edward’s University recommends.
If you do need boxes, there is no need to buy them new (and create new waste) when you can go to your local market or grocery store to ask for used cardboard boxes, St. Edward’s University advises. You can also ask friends, coworkers and family if they have boxes from a recent move.
If you don’t have time to look for used boxes, your mover may be able to help. When you reach out, HGTV suggests asking if they sell recycled boxes, and whether the movers will be available to help you pack with an eye toward using as few boxes as possible.
And, be sure to pass on the boxes once your move is complete, advises HGTV. If you don’t know where to take your boxes, the EPA points out that there are organizations and businesses where you can drop off unused boxes for others to use.
There are eco-friendly alternatives to plastic packaging material, packing peanuts and foam wrap. However, if you need to use packing peanuts, there are corn-based, biodegradable alternatives — and you can also seal your boxes with tape made of biodegradable plant material, St. Edward’s University says.
After your move, recycle your packing materials. Corn- or wheat-based packing peanuts can be dissolved in water, according to Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Be aware that most curbside recycling programs won’t take traditional packing peanuts, but if you can’t reuse them, there are mail-back programs, or you may be able to donate them to a shipping store, according to Earth911.
By following these tips, you may help make your next move a little bit easier on the environment.
Originally published on April 25, 2013.