Moving can be stressful, tedious, messy, and expensive. But go green with your move, and besides helping to save the planet, you may actually save money. The key is to start planning and packing early. With a growing fleet of biodiesel moving trucks at your disposal, plenty of sources for used and recycled packing materials, easy ways to recycle your old items, and tips for greening out your new place, being eco-conscious during your move is completely feasible.
Step 1: Organizing
Packing up your belongings usually involves going through and purging what you no longer want or need to lighten your moving load — but you can be environmentally conscious in how you choose to jettison your junk.
Avoid the trashcan.
Separate your to-get-rid-of items into two piles: giveaways and sellables. Plan on having a yard sale, or try to sell some of your more high-priced items on Craigslist or eBay. Take your giveaway items and those that don’t sell to your nearest donation center, like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Or try Freecycle.org, an online networking source for people looking to give away personal items and keep still-usable products out of landfills.
- Give perishables to friends and food banks.
When it gets closer to your actual move date, arrange to give your leftover food and canned goods to friends, or donate your cans to needy food banks instead of throwing them in the trash.
- Recycle or donate your electronics.
Hauling your old TV, toaster, cell phone, or computer monitor to the dumpster can wreak havoc on the environment: Electronics and batteries tend to contain heavy metals and other toxins that can leak into ground soil and contaminate the groundwater.
Check out the Greener Choices Electronics Reuse and Recycling Center for earth-friendly solutions for dealing with your electronic equipment. There should also be an organization, company, or government program in place in your area that can help you dispose of your e-waste properly. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Plug-In to eCycling program offers even more opportunities to donate or recycle your electronics.
Step 2: Packing and Moving
The cost of packing supplies — boxes especially — can add up fast. Ask for free used boxes at your local supermarkets and at chain bookstores like Borders and Barnes & Noble. If they don’t have anything available for you, you can turn to companies like EcoBox and UsedCardboardBoxes.com that buy and sell used moving boxes at affordable prices.
- EcoBox, based out of Austin, Texas, sells all sizes of used and new boxes, packing tape, bubble wrap, and packing peanuts online and in-store. All used boxes are inspected for quality before sale. You can buy them individually, starting at 99 cents for a small box, or as part of a complete moving kit for a one- to two-bedroom apartment that includes 10 small boxes, 10 medium boxes, tape plus a dispenser, bubble wrap, packing paper, a box cutter, and a marker, all for $41.60.*
When moving day rolls around, you can set up for a green transition by hiring moving companies that use biodiesel trucks or by renting one of these trucks yourself. Check with your local movers to see if they have biodiesel trucks for rent, or try one of these companies:
- Go Green Moving is an environmentally friendly moving company based out of Southern California that uses biodiesel moving trucks, recycled packing and moving materials, and 100-percent recycled moving pads.
Earth Friendly Moving offers a zero-waste, do-it-yourself packing and moving process: A week to 10 days before your move, eco-agents deliver eco-friendly RecoPacks and packing materials to your door on trucks that run on a combination of biodiesel and vegetable oil. You do the packing and moving yourself, and then Earth Friendly Moving picks up the packing materials at your new location after you’ve unpacked. It’ll cost you $1.00 per box per week for each RecoPack and an additional $29–$99 for the delivery and pickup fees.*
Step 3: Greening Your New Home
A traditional home inspection will tell you what needs fixing, improvement, or replacement in your new home, but you can do your own green prep and inspection to make sure your new place is low on waste, saving you energy, water, and money.
- Check the weather stripping and caulking on your doors and windows to avoid energy leak.
Buy compact fluorescent light bulbs that use 75-percent less electricity than incandescent lights and last up to 10 times as long. A single 18-watt CFL used in place of a 75-watt incandescent will save about 570 kWh over its lifetime — at 8 cents a kWh, that adds up to a $45 savings per bulb.
- Use programmable thermostats to save on energy when you’re gone.
- Wrap your water heater in an insulating “blanket” to avoid heat escape.
- Many water heaters are set by default at 140 degrees. Reduce your hot-water temperature to 120 degrees; this can save you from 6–10 percent in energy costs.
- Replace old appliances with energy-efficient appliances, and use energy-saving settings on new appliances.
- Change out your furnace, air-conditioning, and heat-pump filters regularly.
- Look into low-flow showerheads and low-flow, dual-flush toilets.
- Use all-natural and green cleaning products to clean your new place — they can save you money and won’t introduce harsh chemicals into your new home.
- Sign up for a service that takes you off tree-killing junk-mail lists. For $9.95 a year*, Stop the Junk Mail pledges to reduce your junk mail by up to 90 percent and puts $1.00 of your subscription fee toward the planting of new trees. You can also register free for the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service, which should decrease the amount of junk mail you receive.