Cutting Down Wastes When Relocating

Whether you are moving down the street or across the country, the process can take a mental, physical, and financial toll on you. After fifty-six boxes, three rolls of tape, five suitcases, piles of crumpled newspapers and torn magazine pages, and mounds of wrinkled clothes, our relocation to Philadelphia is finally over. During the moving process from New York City, my husband and I were torn between our regard for mother earth and our bank account. We would have liked to hire movers to lower our electricity and fuel costs because professionals are just more efficient in moving and driving trucks than we are; use non-petroleum based packing materials, wrappers, bags, storage boxes; but, our financial situation only allowed us to do the move ourselves and buy discounted packing items, which tend to be petroleum based, at a nation-wide home improvement store. We did our best to minimize packing waste, but we are now faced with throwing away pounds of landfill-bound materials. How does one achieve a zero-waste move?

My Star Trek infused mind immediately jumps to the idea of teleportation. No need to pack, no waste to incur. Of course that’s not going to happen any time soon, so here are  a few tips on improvising with the resources you already have (and save money by doing so!):

  • ask for boxes from your office, family, friends, neighbors, local stores. Most of the time, these boxes will be broken down and sent to the curb. Why not reuse them for your move? Since I’m terrified of bugs, I usually put in a sachet of dried lavender in boxes that will contain fabric materials. Friends have told me that bugs, especially bed bugs, hate lavender.
  • utilize your laundry bags, tote bags, and suitcases as replacements for boxes. I would spray these with rubbing alcohol, which will kill bed bugs and their eggs. Then, I would put in a sachet of dried lavender. Paranoid much? Yes, yes I am.
  • use your clothes to wrap fragile things instead of bubble wrap.
  • use crumpled up newspapers and magazine pages instead of styrofoam packing peanuts
  • never underestimate the power of the twine. Packing tape can rip or come undone during the move. Twine, when tied securely, will hold a box or bag firmly even if it gets thrown out of the truck. Try to look for twine made from recycled materials.

After you have finished unpacking, recycle your boxes, newspapers, magazine pages; donate clothes that you used to wrap your things but won’t necessarily wear again; and reuse the twine to hang pictures, decorations, and all your tying needs.

May you and the earth live long and prosper.


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