Make Your Move More Eco-Friendly

AUTHOR: Lisa Campo

Prepping for a move? Use these donating and recycling tips to make moving as eco-friendly as possible.

Moving is an inevitable part of our lives in the 21st century. Whether you’re buying your first home in a small town, moving into an apartment in a big city, or buying a larger house to accommodate a growing family, you’ll have to do it at least once in your life. If you’re one of the many people who’ve become concerned about their effect on the environment, it’s your job to make your move as eco-friendly as possible.

Preparing is the most important part of a move. Prep right and you’ll save time, money, peace of mind, and the environment.

Use recycled or used moving boxes (or rent plastic ones)

During the stress of your move, it’s going to be tempting to walk into your local moving-truck-rental store and buy an array of boxes for cheap. But if you care about the environment, there are other ways to get your moving boxes.

  • Search your local Craigslist, neighborhood buy/sell Facebook group or other neighborhood community resource. If you’re in a city, you’ll be able to find used moving boxes from a neighbor for free or an extremely reduced price. People are always looking to get rid of moving boxes – most don’t want to throw away so much trash, but can’t fit all those boxes into their recycling bins or travel to a recycling center.
  • Buy used moving boxes online. You’ll be amazed at how many companies/websites offer them.
  • Rent plastic moving bins. A great way to cut down on your waste. You can return them when you’re done! Check out as an example. There are many other companies online if you want to compare pricing.

If you must purchase new boxes, at least make sure they’re made from recycled materials. When you’re done with your move, put your boxes up for sale or giveaway online.

Another idea to remember: if you’re not near a donation center, Give Back Box lets you use your old boxes to send in donation – and the shipping is free.

Once you’ve acquired your moving boxes, you’re ready to go on an eco-friendly packing spree.

Donate, Recycle, Donate, Recycle

Don’t pack anything that you’re not going to use in your new home. Now’s the chance for you to simplify your life – or to just get rid of toys, clothes, and furniture that doesn’t fit into your life anymore. Besides, why pack something that you’re just going to leave in a box for the next 2 years?

  • Donate anything that you still haven’t unpacked from your last move. You know what I’m talking about. Have you even used that waffle maker since you got it from your wedding registry? Unless it’s something of emotional value, it’s safe to say you don’t need it.
  • If you haven’t used it in a year, donate it. This is, by now, a well-known rule of thumb when it comes to donating clothes: If you haven’t worn it in the last four seasons, you’re not going to wear it in the next four, either. The same goes for items in other rooms of the house.
  • If your kids haven’t played with a toy in a few months, donate it. Unless it’s a childhood teddy bear or blanket. Have teenagers? They’ll have old clothes to add to the pile that no longer fit them or that they don’t wear anymore.
  • If you need to throw away any of the following items, recycle instead: batteries, computers, cell phones, CFL bulbs, televisions. Learn more about special items and how to recycle them.
  • Think outside of the box. You can recycle old jeans into housing insulation. Nike recycles tennis shoes into a new line of shoes and clothing called Nike Grind – find a Nike location where you can drop off shoes to be recycled. Best Buy accepts many different types of electronics and appliances for recycling, and you might even be able to trade them in for a gift card. If you own it, you can probably give it away to a good cause.
  • Don’t just donate to Goodwill or Salvation Army. Shelters of all kinds need clothing and linen donations – even animal shelters! Consider calling local homeless, women’s, or animal shelters to ask what kinds of donations they’re looking for.

Hard on You, Easy on Earth

You’ve got your used boxes and you’ve donated and recycled all that you can. Use common sense and a few good tips to make the best out of packing up and moving your home.

Use your linens and towels to pack delicate items. Forget the bubble wrap, paper, and packing peanuts. Wrap your plates and cups with kitchen towels. For less delicate items such as picture frames, use your sheets, blankets, or anything soft.

Use clothes to wrap and pack jewelry. Scarves can be tied like they’re bags – they work well for this.

If you need paper, use newspaper or the newsprint ads you get in the mail. It’s easy to recycle, and even if you don’t have a newspaper subscription, you probably can save up all those snail mail ads for packaging.

If you need packing peanuts, use biodegradable ones. offers them for cheap.

When you’re finished, remember to recycle any trash.

Keep the environment in mind in your new home, too. Buy CFL or LED bulbs. Think about getting solar panels (many cities and states have tax incentives for installing them). Learn about composting.

Phew, it’s almost over

You’ve unpacked and ready to let everyone know about your beautiful new home. Don’t mail postcards (We’re saving the environment, remember?): Take a nice photo and send an e-card or email to your friends and family. Paperless Post offers lovely free e-card options.

Even if you can’t achieve all these suggestions, doing one is better than none.