Monday, March 29, 2010


Most of us have moved at least once in our lifetime. While it can be an exciting adventure, it's also a lot of work ... sorting, packing, cleaning (oh my). It's also less than environmentally friendly because ... let's face it ... it takes resources to move our stuff from one location to another. It takes packing materials and containers, fuel to haul our stuff and cleaning products to leave that space nice and tidy for the next occupant. In the new place we're faced with what to do with boxes and packing materials and an influx of junk mail (we'll talk about that later). So here are a few "green" moving tips:

Plan Ahead
  • Sort through everything and identify items that are truly needed. Everything else can be sold at a garage sale, donated to charity, offered on Freecycle, etc. The less stuff one moves, the less weight ... and that means less fuel.
  • Gather moving materials and containers. Rather than buy new packing boxes and bubble wrap, check with the local grocery store or liquor store for usable boxes. Many people offer used packing materials on Craigslist and Freecycle. Keep an eye out for people moving into your area and ask them for any boxes which they no longer need. Consider things you already have ... towels, sheets, pillows, etc. can be used instead of plastic bubble wrap or Styrofoam "peanuts". Check with moving companies who may offer reusable containers and wrapping materials.
  • Take a little time to plan your travel route and choose the most fuel efficient of your choices.

The Move
  • Rent the smallest truck possible and ask the company if they offer fuel-efficient vehicles.
  • If personal vehicles are being used, make sure that tires are inflated properly and plan for as few trips as possible.

  • Clean windows, mirrors and floors with vinegar.
  • Use a 50/50 solution of baking soda and vinegar to scrub down bathrooms and kitchens (including the refrigerator and oven).
  • Sweep patios/decks rather than using a leaf blower.

The New Home
  • If the new home needs cleaning, use environmentally-friendly products.
  • Check to see if anything needs fixing (water leaks, window caulking, etc.).
  • Once unpacked, recycle any moving boxes and materials ... again, think about offering them on Freecycle or Craigslist. Perhaps the moving company will take them back for reuse. As a last resort, break them down and take them to the nearest recycling center.
  • File a temporary change of address with the Post Office instead of a permanent address change. Here's an interesting fact ... the Post Office sells lists of permanent address changes to advertisers (they don't bother with the temporary ones). So, to prevent an influx of junk mail, file a temporary, rather than permanent, address change.

Moving can be the adventure of a lifetime, a beginning and an opportunity. With a little thought, it can also be earth-friendly.

As always ... I would love to hear from you!


  1. Estimating the size truck needed can be a difficult thing. My mother passed away recently and my brother and I cleared out her apartment on the weekend. She lived in a one room apartment in a retirement home so Keith rented a van for her few belongs. Everything might have fit, except the van was narrow and long and the furniture was wide and short.
    So we ended up making three trips when one would have done with a larger truck.


  2. Love this post! We moved last summer and I am very, ahem, frugal, and refuse to BUT anything for packing. We got boxes from my husband's employer and I asked at local grocery stores. We had plenty and did a lot of purging of things that could be thrown away or donated. WE still have more work to do...this spring we plan to go through our storage unit and get rid of more and hopefully have a small yard sale for a little cash. Our goal is to move to a smaller storage unit and save money on the cost!

  3. Oooooh, I hate moving. It's different when you are living out of a suitcase as I did for 11 years around South America, but when you have house.... bugger that!

    I wish you luck.


  4. i used to live quite the gypsy lifestyle, moving every 6-12 months when i was younger and loving it...buying my home 4 years ago forced me to get grounded and find new ways of changing my scenery.

    love that you mentioned using towels and sheets and stuff for packing materials, as that was my favorite thing to use also.

    i'd also add:
    * make sure to recycle those newspapers that you do use for wrapping dishes.
    * don't unpack right away. this was my biggest lesson - put everything in one room, and use that initial time to paint, etc., because once you're unpacked you're NOT going to want to do that stuff. when i bought my house, a few days before move-in i hired a painter (i.e., starving musician, they're great and they're cheap) and was SO glad i did it in the beginning!

    oh and i wish i'd have known that about temporary address changes - that is SO cool to know!

  5. We've always used a policy of wrapping our large mirrors, framed pictures and furniture with blankets, comforters, pillows etc. and securing them with reusable interlocking bungee cords that we then store.
    We've also picked up boxes from stores when possible but have also kept purchased moving boxes, storing them by breaking them down to lay flat, and we lend these out to friends and family members for their moves.
    I'm getting ready to do just that again for my daughter's move.

  6. when we move, there will be a lot of junk and junk mail, please recycle them, and save the trees. I have just done a post on saving our trees by recycling paper. I mentioned this Auckland practice before on this blog.

  7. Very interesting ideas and paths.Best wishes.

  8. Great tips. Hopefully I won't be moving for a long time. Thanks!

    Julie Magers Soulen Photography
    Blog of Note

  9. Our bloggy friend Heather of Earth Promise wrote a wonderful article on moving. If you have a minute, check it out here:


  10. Great lists of moving tips! to add on this, Finding Self Storage helps getting access to several secured companies offering an RV Storage depend on your location, moving boxes, insurance, utilities, mortgage and many other services.