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10 Tips for a More Eco-Friendly Moving Process

Explore ways to make your move more sustainable

If you’ve been listening to the news over the past few years, I’m sure you’ve heard that the real estate market is bonkers. We spent the last year looking for a new home in this tumultuous market. And if the process of finding a new place isn’t stressful enough, we can’t forget about how demanding the process of moving can be! After many weeks of packing, unpacking, moving boxes, and hours of cleaning, I’ve compiled some of my top eco-friendly moving tips I’ve learned throughout the process to make your move more eco-friendly.

Moving can be incredibly stressful, exhausting, overwhelming, and let’s not forget, expensive. Whether you’re moving across the street, across town, or across the country, with these tips, you’ll be able to waste less, move more efficiently, and help you reduce your carbon footprint. If you haven’t moved yet, take the time to read some tips about finding an eco-friendly rental here.

exited diverse couple relocating in new apartment
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1. Don’t buy boxes

Boxes are one of the key components to moving, but think about how many boxes you see in a week. While it can be tempting to purchase boxes from your local moving company or hardware store, this is an extra cost that is really unnecessary. From shipping, to shopping at club stores, to just around your complex or your neighborhood, boxes are omnipresent. 

Start by saving your boxes from your deliveries as your moving date approaches. You can even ask your family and friends to help you with the process. It’s something that takes minimal effort, but really helps you in the long run. Plus reusing is always more eco-friendly.

Another great place to accumulate boxes is by asking your job. Most companies have shipping and receiving, so you can ask your managers or shipping departments to start saving boxes for you to help with the move.  

While it can be tempting to pick boxes up from the trash, I would hesitate to recommend this practice. The boxes may be damaged, or not assemble well, or worse, contaminated with pests. The last thing you want to do is put your belongings in something unreliable.


2. Decide on your moving vehicle to move and what makes sense for you

The next step is to decide what vehicle makes the most sense for your move. If you’re moving a short distance, there’s a chance you can use multiple trips using a pick up truck. For a more sustainable option, you can make multiple trips using an electric vehicle or more fuel efficient truck.

Additionally, a U-Haul is always a great option for short or long distance moves because you can make fewer trips using less fuel. Just be sure the truck is turned off when it’s moved to avoid idling. This will save you from emitting fumes and from running through gas in the truck. For a long-distance move, check to see if driving or flying is the more fuel efficient option. You can also see if your moving company has fuel efficient trucks for a longer move.

This isn’t always the easiest decision to make, so really take the time to see what fits into your budget, timeline, and meets your individual needs to have the most eco-friendly moving option.

3. Use towels, t-shirts, and rags instead of bubble wrap for fragile items

Ditch the bubble wrap for your moves. It has a detrimental environmental impact since it cannot be recycled. The popping noises can also scare your pets if they are skittish. While it can be entertaining for children, bubble wrap sits in a landfill after its single use.

Instead, wrap your fragile items like dishes, vases, glassware, or collectibles in t-shirts, dish towels, or washcloths. You will inevitably have to pack these anyways, so this approach really helps cut down on waste, extra purchases, and helps move your packing along more efficiently and sustainably.

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4. Rid unwanted items before you move

Adding extra weight to your moving vehicle can reduce its fuel efficiency or even increase the amount of trips you need to make, increasing your environmental impact. Particularly as it relates to furniture, decide what furniture will ultimately not work in your next space. This same approach can be taken with other things in your home like art, rarely used small appliances, or devices that serve the same functions. Take the time to sell, donate, or give unwanted items to a family member.

This is also a great time to sift through your pantry and decide what unopened items you haven’t consumed that you will most likely not eat. It’s a great time to donate some of these items to your local food bank or food pantry to those who need them. Yet another eco-friendly practice for the move and beyond in your new home.

5. Reduce your food waste!

In the coming weeks before your move, try to consume what’s in your pantry and in your refrigerator before you move. This will help reduce the amount of packing you need to do for food items, and ultimately, give you less anxiety about trying to figure out where it all should go when you get into your new home.

When we were moving, our freezer was left just slightly open, and when we returned to the previous home to do load some more things, the food in the freezer had defrosted. We were ready to cry over the amount of food we had to discard, so learn from our mistake! Make sure your refrigerators and freezers are fully shut in between moving trips. You can learn more about the impacts of food waste here.

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6. Meal prep before you move!

A big part of moving that gets overlooked is setting aside time to eat. If you’ve followed my blog, you’ll know that I take mealtimes very seriously. And while pizza is a great option for the first day, it’s not the most nutritious option. Also, the cost of ordering pizza every night can add up on-top of an already expensive move.

I suggest preparing one large dish that is just heat and eat before you move. I typically do something that will hold up well like pasta.  Then I make sure I have at least two bowls, plates, and cutlery at the ready. Durable reusables are my preferred option here instead of paper plates, because they can be rewashed. If you opt for your regular dishes, make sure they are wrapped well so they don’t break in transit.

If you’re looking for meal prep ideas, check out some of these recipes on our website. Having a dish meal-prepped ahead of time will save you from having to eat out, which is great because moving is hard work and expensive !

crop woman packing box in bedroom
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on

7. Use biodegradable packing material

While cardboard is inherently biodegradable, other packing materials like tape or packing peanuts might not be. You can use paper-based tape, or biodegradable packaging peanuts for more sustainable alternatives.

While the most sustainable option is to use what you have, think twice before you need to make these purchases. But ultimately, the option is there if you need it.

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8. Look for a green moving company

If you need help from a company for a long distance move, or even a large move, look for a green moving company. deciding to let a company help you green moving company is one that adopts more environmentally friendly practices. Some companies use hybrid cards, don’t idle, use recycled materials, and will even help you recycle some furniture or appliances.

Many of these companies exist, so take the time to determine which meets your needs. 


9. Invest in plastic totes

cat is moving
Plastic totes pictured behind a disgruntled cat, seen here knocking over her packed box of things.

While this may seem counter-productive to sustainable practices, invest in plastic totes to help you move. Widely available, you can buy them new, borrow from a family member, or purchase second hand. They are perfect for items that may not hold up to regular cardboard boxes.

Plastic totes are a godsend for heavy items that you’re not sure will fit, like pots and pans, small electronics, technology that you don’t want to get damaged. When you’re done with the totes, use them to store things in your living space like winter clothes or holiday decorations, or extra shoes. You can also pay it forward and share them with family or friends for their move or for storage too. These tubs will always find a way to get used.


10. Use hampers to move clothes and shoes

For our final eco-friendly moving tip, I recommend packing your clothes in hampers or laundry bags. We saved ours over the years from college, so luckily we have plenty around. This will not only reduce the amount of boxes you need to pack, but help you stay organized in where to find your belongings. 

Bonus Tip: Clean your old and new home using Eco-Friendly products

Whether you’re moving into a house, condo, or apartment, you will inevitably need to clean. Make sure you take the time to use eco-friendly cleaners and reusable practices. We have some tips in our article here. Take the time to explore some of our top choices for an eco-friendly kitchen here.

We hope you found this article helpful to provide you with sustainable moving tips. If you have more tips, please feel free to comment or share below. Moving is stressful enough, but you don’t need to stress the planet in the process. We hope you have an eco-friendly move!

Follow us on our blog and your other favorite platforms for the latest tips on how to stay more sustainable. And let us know what other types of tips you’d like to see by commenting below or sending us an email!


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