7 Ways to Be Less Wasteful While Moving

Moving can generate a lot of waste, not to mention expenses. Cut down on both by simply reusing materials you already have around the house.

By Jenn Ryan | Updated Oct 27, 2021 3:37 PM

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About 40 million Americans move every single year, and they generate a lot of waste as they head from one residence to the next. In fact, materials required for these moves amount to about 90 million pounds of packing paper, 30 million rolls of tape, and 900 million cardboard boxes each year. With so much waste generated just from moving households, it makes sense to reduce your use of materials where you can to create a less wasteful and more efficient move. Doing so will be gentler on the environment and can even save you big bucks on your move. Here are seven ways you can make less waste during your next move.

Purge Before You Move

There’s no sense in packing things you don’t need. Moving items that you’ll end up throwing away or donating at your destination just leads to more boxes, more packing tape, and more trips with the minivan (or moving van). Before you move, sort through your possessions. This is a great time to get rid of clothes you don’t wear, expired pantry items, old sports equipment, and broken furniture or tools. If you can, hold off on making any large purchases before you move so you will have less to pack.

RELATED: 10 Things to Leave Behind the Next Time You Move



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Reuse Boxes (or Baskets)

With so much online purchasing today, many people have no shortage of extra boxes lying around the house. Once you know you’ll be moving, begin to collect and store cardboard boxes that you can use to pack your belongings. Save large boxes from Amazon, pet supply companies, and appliance stores—you can even use shoeboxes. Depending on the scale of your move, you can also transport items in storage bins or baskets, laundry baskets, or luggage. By reusing boxes or baskets, you will not have to purchase as many (or any) new boxes, so your move will generate less additional waste.

RELATED: 17 Creative Ways to Reuse Cardboard Boxes

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Find Used Boxes

If you don’t happen to have a lot of boxes lying around, you can check with local retailers to see if they have boxes they are planning on recycling. Retailers such as grocery stores or warehouse stores typically receive items in boxes and have extra ones lying around, so ask if you can have or purchase some of the old boxes. If you still end up having to buy brand-new boxes for your move, choose boxes made with recycled materials to amp up the eco-friendliness.

RELATED: The Best Moving Boxes of 2021

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Use Existing Materials for Packing

Instead of relying on packing peanuts or plastic bubble wrap to protect breakables, get creative about what you use to cushion your belongings. Of course, you can purchase biodegradable packing peanuts, but why do this when you can repurpose things you have around the house? To cushion delicate items, use cleaning rags or old towels or blankets, old newspapers, used plastic bags, used bubble wrap, or even clothes or bedding you’re bringing to your destination anyway.

RELATED: 12 Tips and Tricks We Learned From Professional Movers

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Fold Boxes to Cut Down on Packing Tape

Cardboard boxes can be folded at the top to limit the use of packing tape, which is made of plastic and isn’t recyclable. Homeowners can run through several rolls of packing tape during a move, and the more boxes there are, the more tape gets used. When you fold the tops of boxes, you avoid using more tape, which will not only cut down on your moving costs but also help reduce waste and protect the environment. When you do need to purchase packing tape, choose paper tape to minimize the impact on the environment.

RELATED: 11 Packing Tips for a Smooth Move

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Recycle as Much as You Can

When you’re finished unpacking everything, recycle as much material as you can. If you’ve used soft plastic materials, be sure to recycle these according to your county’s regulations. Before you take leftover boxes to recycling, consider giving them away to someone else who is moving. Any biodegradable packing peanuts you used for your move are made of starch and can be safely thrown in the trash.

RELATED: 20 Surprising Things You Can’t Recycle

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Choose Your Moving Company Wisely

If you’re hiring professionals to move your belongings, you may want to consider eco-conscious companies that use recycled materials and map efficient routes to cut down on fossil fuels and unnecessary waste. When getting a price quote from a moving company, ask what steps they take to make your move as efficient and environmentally friendly as possible.

RELATED: How to Choose the Best Moving Company for Your Needs

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