This past weekend, I had the pleasure of enduring one of life’s most stressful events: moving. While I was thrilled to be relocating to an apartment that was newer, more spacious, and in closer walking distance to some of my favorite shops and outdoor spaces, there were other aspects of the move—like living in cluttered chaos for the week prior, spending every night packing after a long day at work, and trying to organize my cable service transfer—that were less than pleasant. Another not-so-great thing about moving that I realized while surrounded by trash, boxes, and packing materials? How inherently un-green the entire process is.
Now, my husband and I (and our dog) lived in a tiny, one-bedroom apartment. So we’d always worked hard at restricting our purchases to the essentials in an effort to avoid accumulating too much stuff. Who knew the “essentials” would end up filling over twenty cardboard boxes? As someone who prides herself on living simply and without (too much) extra froufrou, I was sort of appalled at the amount of stuff I actually owned (a whole box full just for my shoes? Really?), and the amount of resources it required to move everything to our new place—that was literally only a mile away! But as frustrating as the whole thing was, I’m happy to say that we did employ a few small—but still significant—tricks that helped make the moving and packing process a little bit greener:
Go through your stuff before packing
Even though we ended up with twenty boxes of stuff to transport, that number would’ve been even higher had I not gone through our belongings ahead of time to find the items we no longer used. Instead of packing clothes I don’t wear, books I’ve already read, and papers I don’t need, I could donate or recycle them.
We really did want to do the move ourselves—but the thought of carrying several pieces of furniture up three steep flights of stairs on a 100+ degree day seemed near impossible, so we reluctantly hired a moving company. It cost some money, but hiring movers did help us with another thing: boxes. With a deposit, our moving company let us take as many as we needed. Instead of throwing them out afterwards, we can bring all the empty boxes right back.
Use packing material you already have
Since we seriously underestimated how much stuff we had to pack, we only took one small roll of paper to use for wrapping our breakable items, like glasses and dishes. So it wasn’t long before the paper ran out, but we didn’t go back to get more. Instead, we started wrapping items in towels, kitchen rags, t-shirts, and even oven mitts. It worked like a charm, and actually helped us pack a few less boxes overall, since those cloth items didn’t need to be packed on their own.
We moved into this new place so I could set up a home office in the spare bedroom. When it came time to buy a desk, I headed to my favorite local vintage store and found a fantastic midcentury modern one made of dark wood—for $113! For a fraction of what it would’ve cost to buy new, I got a super cool looking desk that used zero new resources to build or pack. The moral of the story: If you need to furnish the new space, go secondhand when possible.
What about you? What are some of the ways your family has or will green a move?
Reprinted from KIWI Magazine