Canada's Condominium Magazine
By Sassa Brown
Moving can be stressful — without the added worries about the environmental impact of your move. But the carbon footprint of the average move is very high: truck load and emissions, recycled packing material, landfill impact, and other factors. Taking a little extra time with your preparations can make your move less stressful — and much greener.
Stress = opportunity to green up
Having too much “stuff” is overwhelming and stressful when it’s time to move. It’s also one of the big contributors to the nasty carbon footprint of your move.
Even moving down the street takes a great deal of work. In fact, that often takes a lot more work because you are not making one long trip but several small trips since you likely would not rent a large truck to move a few doors down. At least, that is how it goes for me. I am currently getting ready for a move myself, and since I am only moving a few streets over, I will be loading things into my tiny car and making several trips to the new house with my belongings and borrowing a relative’s truck to move furniture.
Too many boxes, too much garbage
When you move you normally take the chance to “clean up.” Avoid the mistake of sending everything to landfills. Yes, it takes a lot of work to move. You sort your belongings into carefully labeled boxes, stack them so they are not in the way as you continue to prepare for the move, load all those boxes and your furniture into your vehicle, and then unload them all at your new home. It can be a daunting task.
In all the chaos, many people do not realize that it is also extremely taxing on the environment. Bags upon bags of old clothes, broken toys, and useless clutter that accumulated over the years make their way to the landfill as we head to our new homes with the belongings we keep. Then there are the boxes and packing material (the newspapers, bubble wrap, tape, and so on). This presents a problem. How can we make the moving process more environmentally friendly and less stressful?
The solution is easy, but it takes some time. Each item you can recycle, donate to Goodwill (or any worthy charity), and upcycle or reuse is less weight on the truck, less disposable packaging — and, as a bonus, less sweat at moving time.
The best approach is to begin preparing for the move ahead of time. Waiting until the last minute creates a lot of unnecessary pressure, and things can be forgotten or overlooked. Compile a list of tasks that need to be completed prior to the move so that you can check them off one-by-one and have them completed before the big day arrives.
Use the extra time to start sorting through your belongings. Set aside last year’s winter clothes and any other clothes that no longer fit. Gather toys and other items that are no longer used or wanted. Donate them to a local charity or thrift store rather than tossing them. This will drastically reduce the amount of waste, while also helping people in need.
Sort through any clutter or waste that is recyclable and take them to your local recycling center. Make an effort to recycle as much as possible instead of just throwing everything away. Research local recycling options to find the most viable solutions for recycling anything that you are not taking with you. Organizing your recyclables into categories such as plastics, glass, cardboard, paper, and aluminum can make recycling easier. See if you have any local businesses that are looking for the things you are discarding.
Upcycle and Donate
Donating uneeded furniture and clothes has a major impact on your moving carbon footprint. What can’t be donated, consider, “upcycling.” Instead of filling up the landfill, and especially if you have kids — which can be “extra” stressful for moving — why not take old items that you no longer use (such as leftover beads and buttons, paint that has almost run out, and cardboard from boxes that have been damaged) and take a break to make some crafts as a family? Kids really enjoy creating their own works of art that they can hang up in their new room. Take old, ratty jeans and make a new purse or a stylish pair of shorts. You may be surprised at all the ways that you can upcycle your old, seemingly useless items.
Be careful when recycling or disposing of any waste, and pay special attention to anything that you are packing to take with you as well. Toxic items such as batteries and chemicals are dangerous — a major environmental hazard. They cannot be transported alongside other items, and they should never be disposed of by tossing them in your trash can. They cannot be recycled with your bottles and boxes, either. You will need to research local recycling centres that specialize in these types of items.
Reuse — or if necessary recycle — your moving boxes
Finally, when you have finished unpacking and are ready to settle down in your new home, you can get rid of all those boxes without having to throw them away. See if anyone in your community is getting ready to move and is in need of boxes. Local schools, charity organizations, small businesses, etc. may have use for those boxes for storage or for moving themselves. Food banks and some charities can always use more boxes to transport items to those in need. Donate those boxes to a good cause, helping your fellow man and your environment all in one move.