five ideas for how to move house sustainably
Sustainable Living

5 Ideas for How to Move House Sustainably

If you follow us on Twitter, you’ll know that I moved house recently. Moving is a BIG task that can come with a lot of waste, so that got me thinking: how can I have an eco-friendly move? I’m sharing some ideas here on how to move house sustainably.

5 Ways to Move House Sustainably

In my life I’ve moved a lot. There was a stretch of time where I moved on average once a year, so I’ve got a ton of practice with the whole moving thing. While moving can create waste, there are some ways to reduce that and move house sustainably.

Here are five ideas for a more eco-friendly move:

Reused Moving boxes for a sustainable move
Photo by Michal Balog on Unsplash

1. Find used boxes for packing

While there are places that sell new moving boxes, there are so many boxes out there in circulation already. Reusing an item is always a greener approach and an easy way to make your move more sustainable.

Where to find used boxes:

  • Craigslist freebies, Kijiji or other resale sites for free boxes
  • Buy Nothing Groups (Find your local one here)
  • Facebook groups such as Ship Again Vancouver or your local Zero Waste page
  • Stores–retail, fast food, grocery stores, or liquor stores are all great options

Helpful tip: Stores will often tell you what days they receive shipments so you can pick up boxes before they’re broken down. This will save you not only time, but also on the amount of tape needed.

Another option is to find alternatives to moving boxes. When I move, I always utilize things I have around the house to pack my belongings in.

Some green alternatives to moving boxes are:

  • Suitcases
  • Plastic storage totes
  • Large purses or travel bags
  • Laundry baskets

2. Shipping and packing materials

Just like boxes, it is completely possible to find and use second hand shipping and packing materials. Whether it’s packing paper, bubble wrap, or something else to protect your valuables, reusing items is a great way to move house sustainably.

There are groups on Facebook and Instagram that are specifically for reusing shipping and packing materials. Our local one is called “Ship Again Vancouver,” but I’ve seen others mention groups near them around the world. It’s a great initiative to give these supplies new life and keep them from the landfill.

Where to find eco-friendly packing materials:

  • Use newspapers and flyers
  • Utilize your towels/blankets/sheets/other soft items to pack breakable items
  • Look for groups like Ship Again Vancouver for second hand packing materials
  • Craigslist freebies, Kijiji or other resale sites for free materials
  • Ask in your Buy Nothing Group
Moving truck to move house sustainably
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

3. Book the correct size moving van

This likely seems straightforward, but it can be easy to underestimate the amount of things we own. Booking a large enough van or truck will ensure you only have to do one trip between homes. Spending less time driving and burning gas will always be better for the environment.

4. Downsize your items

Moving is the main time that I realize just how much stuff I have. Sometimes it is overwhelming how much we can accumulate in our lives. With that, though, moving can also be a great motivation to declutter and downsize our belongings.

Downsizing belongings might sound like an odd thing to add to an eco-friendly moving list, but there are a few reasons why I have it on the list:

  • Taking the time to intentionally declutter in advance instead of at the last minute, means that you can also take the time to find ways to responsibly dispose of your items.
  • Having less items to pack, means using less resources–less tape, less boxes, less packing materials.
  • If you downsize enough, you may be able to utilize a smaller moving vehicle.
  • Letting go of items you don’t need can help bolster a sustainable mindset.

Once you take time to declutter, focus on finding responsible ways to dispose of them.

For some ways to dispose of your belongings, check out these posts for ideas:

Eco-Friendly Ways for Disposing your Unwanted Belongings

10 Unique Recycling Programs you Need to Know About

How to Sell Your Used Items Online

room full of clutter
Photo by ลžahin Sezer Dinรงer on Unsplash

5. Plan ahead for new purchases

Even though I own a full apartment of stuff, I always seem to need to buy something when I move. Whether it’s a new shower curtain or toilet brush or a piece of furniture that better fits the new space, there are a number of things one might need to buy.

If you’re able to plan ahead, this will give you time to research the most sustainable options for your new purchases. This could mean finding a sustainable company to purchase your new product from or taking the time to source out a second hand option.

With my most recent move, I was needing to swap out some furniture for my new space. I started letting people know I was on the hunt for new-to-me furniture and was connected with a friend’s family member who was downsizing their home. It was the perfect situation for both of us! I was grateful that I had the time to look into second hand furniture instead of purchasing new.

How would you move house sustainably?

Have you ever though of how to have a sustainable move? We’d love to hear your thoughts on ways to make the task of moving more eco-friendly!

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    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      Wow! I’ve moved so much I can’t imagine living in the same place for so long. I’d love to though!

      Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

  • brittshedhappens

    You have some great suggestions here! I’m currently in the middle of packing for a Dec 1 move and I’m happy to see that we check off most of the items on this list. We have gathered our boxes largely from family and friends, with everyone saving up boxes from any deliveries they get and any newspaper. A friend that recently moved dropped off quite a few boxes for me.
    The biggest thing that I’ve been doing this month has been the downsizing. I am donating A LOT right now! Lol Like, I think I am donating almost as much as I am packing… It feels good to declutter this way and I love that all of these items are going to go to someone that can use them rather than collecting dust in my house.

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      I hope your move goes well! It sounds like you’re doing really well with being on top of collecting boxes and downsizing. It really does feel good to declutter and send things to a new home ๐Ÿ™‚

  • readandreviewit1

    Fab tips! I should be moving out next September so this was super useful. I really love the idea of reusing boxes – and I think it’s a fab opportunity to sort through and declutter belongings too! Thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Jaya Avendel

    My grandmother bought a house last month and is moving to be closer to me and my family, so we have been a big part of her packing up and moving process. She scored all her packing supplies while taking a load of trash to her dumpster; a woman was unloading dozens of cardboard boxes, paper packing supplies, and bubblewrap. She was delighted to let my grandmother have it all!

    Whilst my grandmother was packing up her belongings too, she found so much old paperwork and many books, utensils, supplies, and even furniture and clothing she does not want anymore. She is buying very little for the new house (mainly a new bed frame), and is pretty happy to have decluttered so much. It feels good to move with as little baggage as possible.

    Thanks for sharing your takeaways from your moving journey!

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      What great timing for rescuing all of those boxes and supplies! So great to be able to reuse all of those things. My family has been working with my grandma to help her declutter some too. She’s not moving yet, but it will be a big task for when she does. It sounds so nice to have your grandmother move closer to your family ๐Ÿ™‚

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!