Moving Questions: Is There Such a Thing as a Green Move?

The environment is usually the last thing on your mind when you’re getting ready to move to a new house or apartment.  A green move may seem like an oxymoron when you’re talking about driving a huge truck across the state — or across the country — chugging gas and spreading CO2 into the atmosphere. So why even bother?

Because there are ways to make your upcoming move less of a strain to the environment, to have a “green move.” Take a look at some of the main areas where you can reduce your move footprint.

Companies and Trucks

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Yes, Virginia, there are green moving companies. They aren’t everywhere yet, but it doesn’t hurt to do a search and see if there is a company committed to green moving in your area. They will have taken steps to reduce the carbon footprint of their trucks and offer guides and checklists to help you make your move as green as possible.

If there’s no green company in your town and you’re renting a standard truck, there are several things you can do to reduce the environmental cost of your trip. Start by searching for a company with trucks that run on biodiesel fuel. Whether regular or biodiesel, when you pick up your rental make sure the truck’s tires are properly inflated for optimal gas mileage (which will also save on your gas budget!). Most importantly, make sure you are getting the smallest possible truck that will hold all your belongings. Larger trucks usually have significantly lower gas mileage and increased emissions, so smaller is better.

Shedding Weight

Are you having trouble imagining how to fit all your stuff into those smaller trucks? Maybe it’s time to reduce the amount of stuff you have so that you can fit everything into a smaller space. Here’s some ideas for cutting back on what you have to move:

  1. Have a garage sale before you move to reduce your home inventory
  2. Donate gently used clothing, books, and even furniture to a local charity or thrift store
  3. Clean out your pantry, donating non-perishables to a food bank and giving perishable foods to friends and neighbors — esp. those who help you load the truck!
  4. Recycle all the stacks of paper, old magazines, glass, and plastics that are stashed around the house

Pack Creatively

Did you know that the average home move takes around 60 boxes of various sizes? It takes a 1,000 pound tree to make that much cardboard — and that’s not even considering the plastic and Styrofoam used to wrap and insulate items within the boxes. Creative packing is perhaps the easiest way to cut down on the environmental cost of your move. Here’s how to get started:

  • Get used boxes from friends/family/co-workers or by checking free sites like craigslist & freecycle
  • Purchase boxes and supplies made from recycled products
  • Create your own “boxes” by putting smaller, softer items inside large items like laundry hampers, large pots, etc.
  • Pad breakable items with towels, sweaters, blankets, t-shirts, even napkins or placemats
  • Buy fitted sheets from a thrift store and use them to cover your mattresses (2 sheets per mattress to get complete coverage) instead of buying plastic covers

Still looking for ways to offset the environmental cost of your move? You can make a donation to an environmental charity to offset the damage of your move. Consider buying wind power vouchers or supporting a foundation that plants trees. You can also make a commitment to making your new home greener with energy-saving lights, upgrading to ENERGY STAR appliances, and setting up a plan for recycling and composting once you arrive.

A green move IS possible, you just have to be willing to go a few extra steps to make it happen.

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