Green Moving: Eco-Friendly Tips for an Environmentally Conscious Move

People are more aware than ever of their carbon footprint. While a single person’s environmental impact might be miniscule in comparison to larger corporations, Americans create more than 290 million tons of waste. When it comes to moving, you might be generating more waste than normal since you’ll be decluttering your home, using and throwing out packing materials, and, of course, burning gas.

While it might not be feasible to go completely green with your move, there are ways to make it more sustainable. The tips below can help you improve your eco footprint with some advanced planning.

Declutter Wisely

Moving is always a great time to get rid of the stuff that’s been lying in your closet or garage barely used. Not only does it save you packing time, it can also save you money as you’ll be bringing less stuff with you. Instead of throwing these items out, take some time to inspect the condition of each item. If they’re practically brand new, why not set up a garage or yard sale? While you won’t recoup the original cost of the item, you can earn some extra pocket cash to add to your moving budget.

For more high-end items like designer clothes, camera equipment, or specialized items, it might be worth your time to sell them online to get the most bang for your buck. Do a search on eBay for similar items to see the average price. You might not want to waste your time on items that only sell for a few dollars, but for things that are over $20 you might want to consider this option. It will take longer to sell and you’ll have to deal with shipping the items, but it’s certainly a better option than throwing it out.

You won’t be able to sell everything online or at a garage/yard sale. For leftover items, ask friends or family members if they’d be willing to take some items for free. If no one is interested, go online and post pictures of all the free items. People love free things so you’ll be able to get rid of a good chunk of items. After that, go to your local goodwill store and donate any items that are in good condition. Anything that is in bad shape, you’ll need to trash.

Rethink Packing

Yes, cardboard boxes are the quintessential moving materials, but before you break out the boxes, look around to see what else you might be able to use. If you’re performing a DIY move, you don’t have to have everything perfectly packed. Even if you do hire professional movers, you can still get around using boxes so long as your belongings are securely packed.

What does that mean for you? Before you even break out the boxes, use things like suitcases, backpacks, totes, etc. Use these for your personal non-fragile items. If you have nice suits and/or dresses, use a trash bag instead of purchasing a garment bag to keep your clothes safe.

If you do need boxes, use the ones that you already have. If you threw out your old boxes, start saving from now until moving day. Chances are you’ll still be doing some online shopping, so keep whatever boxes come your way. You might still need more so ask friends if they have any spares and/or go to local stores to see if they’d be willing to part with some. If you have some extra money, consider renting plastic bins from the moving companies. Not only are they sturdier than cardboard boxes, they are also weather and dust proof and have snap closures, removing the need for tape.

Wrap Fragile Items in Fabric or Old Paper

Unless everything you own is made out of plastic, you’ll probably have a few fragile items like dishes, cups, plates, etc. that need extra protection. Switch out bubble wrap and packing paper with sheets, towels, t-shirts, etc. You’ll need to move these things anyway, so you’re killing two birds with one stone!

Once you’ve wrapped up these items, fill in the empty areas with old paper that’s lying around your house. That could be anything from newspapers to magazines to junk mail! Once you’re done moving, you can throw these items into the recycling. Just make sure you wash any cups and dishes well after moving into your new house to remove any lingering ink.

If you must use bubble wrap, try to find one that is eco-friendly. There are some biodegradable options available. Even if you can’t cover the upfront costs of the more eco-friendly options, you can actually recycle regular bubble wrap!

Use Up Your Perishable Items

Unless you’re making a last-minute move, chances are you have at least a month to go through as much of your perishable items as possible. Not only will you reduce your moving waste, you’ll also save yourself money as you’ll be moving less stuff. In order to get the most out of what you currently have, follow the steps below:

  1. Assess what you have – Grab a notebook and pen and write down everything you own in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. You can place these into categories including perishables, canned goods, baking and cooking supplies, condiments, etc. For the non-perishables, write down the expiration date.
  2. Create a plan – once you have an inventory of everything, you should figure out what you’re going to do next. Perishables should be the first thing to tackle on your list and then work your way down. You can even decide what items you want to bring with you on the move.
  3. Cook the perishables – You might need to get a bit creative if you have a mishmash of perishable items, but there are a few apps that can provide some recipes based on the items you already own. Do your best to avoid buying any new perishables. If you have to, don’t buy in bulk. Only buy what you need for the recipe.
  4. Share whatever is leftover – if you’re not able to go through all your perishables, see if your friends or family members would be up for taking some. Just make sure your fruits/veggies haven’t gone bad!
  5. Throw it out – anything you don’t plan on eating or giving to friends should be thrown out. This includes all expired foods. Make sure to clean out any glass or plastic bottles beforehand so you can properly recycle these containers.
  6. Prepare food for moving day – there’s a good chance you’ll get hungry at some point during moving day. To reduce waste, make sure to have some snacks and water ready for yourself and/or kids.

Pack Necessities Day of the Move

When planning for an eco-friendly move, it is crucial to pack essentials on the day of the move. By doing so, you ensure that you have easy access to your most important items without rummaging through multiple boxes. This approach not only saves time but also reduces unnecessary waste. After all, you won’t have to buy emergency toiletries or use plastic dishware/flatware because you have already packed these away.

With that said you don’t need to keep everything out. Instead, leave out enough items to get you through both the entire moving process including unpacking. That means setting aside a few dishes, cups, flatware, bedding, clothes, toiletries, kitchen utensils, etc. While this might take some extra planning, you’ll be a lot happier at the end of the day, especially the night after you move into your new place. You don’t want to dig through your boxes to find your toothbrush and paste, do you?

Hire Movers

It might cost you some more money, but hiring movers is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Sound counterintuitive? Consider this – if you use your own car, you might have to take multiple trips back and forth to shuttle all your belongings to your new place. Plus, with all that extra weight your car/van will use up more fuel. Even if you rent a truck or van, you could end up contributing more greenhouse gasses as you could end up getting lost or stuck in traffic.

Professional movers know exactly how to load the truck to evenly spread out the weight. More importantly, they are experienced drivers. Local NYC movers are familiar with your neighborhood and know the best ways to get around while avoiding traffic. And even though long-distance drivers might not be as familiar with a specific area, they are experienced drivers and know how to split up their trip to get maximum mileage every day.

Get Started with your Eco-Friendly Move

These tips can help make your next move more environmentally friendly. Once you’re ready to schedule your move date, make sure to call up some movers to help out. Besides being better for the environment, pro movers are also great for your sanity and happiness!


Are there any moving companies that have hybrid moving trucks?

Some moving companies are making the switch to hybrid vehicles, but it’s still a long way off as there aren’t too many manufacturers for these larger trucks. If you’re curious though, there’s no harm in asking!

What should I do with hazardous materials or cleaning chemicals during the move?

Check on the back of your cleaning products and/or chemicals for instructions on safe disposal. It’s never a good idea to just throw a half-full bottle into the trash as the chemicals could leak out of the trash bag.

What should I do with all my moving boxes?

There’s a lot you can do with the boxes, but if you don’t want them lying around once you’ve unpacked the easiest thing to do is recycle them. You can also offer them for free to people in your new neighborhood.