moving.jpg If you’re anything like me, you might have text message conversations with your friends in which they need to double check that you still live in the same place before you hang out. I’ve moved so many times that when I went to apply for a car loan last year, I wasn’t sure if I was filling out a loan application or a professional baseball roster. Needless to say, I’ve come up with a few tips along the way for eco-friendly moves.

1. Don’t buy boxes, find and reuse them!

First and foremost, plan ahead! Every time I’ve moved I’ve started asking friends/family about a month in advance to save any large boxes they come across. This has been very fruitful, and in some instances, it is all I have needed to move my “stuff” from point A to point B. When I have needed more boxes, though, there’s a few locations that have been tried and true. Don’t be afraid to waltz into any of them and ask the first helpful sales clerk you might find for their leftovers. Most major businesses use boxes daily, including:
  • Electronic stores, like Best Buy
  • Package stores
  • Grocery Stores
Note: You may need to call ahead to see when they unpack, but there will guaranteed be a lot of boxes here no matter what.
Places like U-Haul offer programs like TAKE A BOX/LEAVE A BOX.

2. Return/recycle boxes when you’re done!

Much like anything item that you use, keep in mind the lifecycle of that item. When you’re done moving, cardboard boxes can be stored for the next time you or a friend move. They also can be properly recycled so you don’t have to feel as bad about using found boxes.

3. Get rid of “stuff”

vanityhutch.jpgIf there is one lesson I’ve learned in all my moving around, it’s that you can’t hold onto everything. I’m not saying you need to be the opposite of a hoarder and live in a home that echoes, because it is so empty. I’m just suggesting that you remain aware of what you’re buying and what you’re carting around with you. Of course, you can always “donate,” but what does that mean? There’s always places like the Salvation Army, which will accept a whole range of items. One creative use I found, though, was over this past weekend. I was doing some spring cleaning at my parent’s house and a little bit of effort on craigslist can go a long way. I put the following simple ad up at 10:02 a.m., and by 11:00 a.m., someone had driven to my house and picked up a decent amount of old furniture that we had no use for. Like some sort of Internet magic trick, it disappeared with the power of a few sentences. There are always some items that you might want to keep around. Nana’s ceramic Christmas tree obviously can’t just be carelessly tossed away. She needs to decorate with that every year. But if someone else can use something, and you need the space and maybe some extra cash, why not let it go? Some other things I’ve done is use services like Amazon or EBay. Amazon has a great Trade-In program that is much easier than messing with eBay, in my opinion. I like these programs because you’re not just throwing things away, and someone else is getting some use out of them down the road. I’ve especially used Amazon for trading in old books. My liberal arts conscience cringes at the thought of me sending books off into the ether, but books are not fun to move or to store if you’re living in tiny third floor apartments. Trading them in was as easy as going on Amazon’s website, searching for a book I had and then clicking a button that said “I have one I want to trade.” I packed away all my precious reference material, and in a few days, I had a check and a few less boxes to move. For the books that Amazon wouldn’t accept, call your local Library. They usually will take books or have some idea of where you can bring them.

4. Use materials in creative ways

Some of the following recommendations were born out of necessity, and some actually had some forethought. Consider your towel drawer/closet packing material and use it… EVERYWHERE
Small washcloths are also great padding to go in between cups or other glassware. Full size towels are protection for your furniture from getting scratched. Your dresser drawers do not need to be emptied. Some people will take all of their clothes out and put them all into boxes and then move the drawers inside the bureau. You can always consider leaving the clothes in those drawers, moving your dresser, and then moving the drawers as if they were boxes. The Life Hack Website Winebox Shoe Carrier (just take a look!) And my personal favorite, keeping your clothes on hangers. Note: This one does require a plastic bag so please consider the environment when doing so. But it will save you a lot of boxes and use of electricity re-ironing all of your fancy pants in the future.

5. Environmentally friendly cleaning!

I saved the most exciting part of moving for last, cleaning. Everyone wants that security deposit back when they move out. Especially in those cases when it is two months’ worth of rent. Putting a place back the way you found it can be tough, but it has to get done. Certainly, your landlord is going to want surfaces cleaned and as presentable as possible for the next tenants, so it’s always a good idea to respect that. Sometimes they may even want that lime green paint color you chose for your room covered up. It’s no surprise that like anything else, there are going to be green alternatives when you clean. Keep in mind the chemicals used in the product itself, and if the container is biodegradable or recyclable. You could write a whole article on green cleaning supplies alone, but for some quick information check out the EPA’s website on Safer Choice. Do you have any more tips? Share in the comment section below.