What is the first thing that springs to mind if I was to mention moving house? If you said stress then I’d have to virtually high-five you because the stress that moving house entails is normally the first thing that springs to mind when thinking about any potential house move.
In my adult life, I have personally moved house 17 times (17!) so I am well versed in house moving stresses. Our last move was the most stressful move to date – the house we were buying remained on the market right up until the point we got the keys, and we didn’t receive the keys until 4:40 pm on moving day. We ended up moving our stuff out as the buyer of our flat moved their stuff in! Needless to say, I don’t plan on moving for quite some time!
Stress aside, is there anything else that springs to mind about moving house? Your first or second thought might not be the environmental impact of moving house, but there are indeed a few of factors to consider the next time you move house:
Declutter Before Packing
If I was to give anyone any moving advice, it is always declutter before even thinking about starting to pack your stuff up. Getting rid of stuff you don’t need means you need fewer boxes, fewer packaging materials and may mean you need a smaller removals van, saving a whole lot of money. Separating the wheat from the chaff also makes packing and unpacking so much easier, and I’ve found when I take this approach I rarely have that rogue unopened box of junk left over that takes, ahem, a year to get round to opening and dealing with.
Decluttering expert Marie Kondo measures decluttering success by how many bin bags are filled and thrown out. I take a different approach. I have many gripes with Marie Kondo, which I could discuss at length, but in the interests of brevity and sticking to the point all I say that there’s so much wastefulness inherent in this type of approach.
Decluttering is not a case of throwing everything in the bin that you no longer need. In the past (pre-Marie Kondo), I wrote at length on how to declutter sustainably. Before you reach for a bin bag I’d recommend giving it a read – I offer advice on what you can do with your unwanted goods to help keep them out of landfill and in active use for longer. If you have worn out or broken items I also offer advice on where you can responsibly dispose of items at the end of their lifespan.
Once you’ve decluttered, you can move on to the packing stage. Cardboard boxes are one environmental factor to consider when it comes to moving house. Many removal companies supply their own brand new boxes and packaging materials at an additional cost to you, and you can also buy boxes and packaging online. While you can easily recycle cardboard boxes after your move, I’ve always felt that it’s a bit of a waste of materials and resources to buy new cardboard just for the sake of moving stuff from one house to another.
To save resources (and a bit of cash) in the past I have always fostered a good relationship with my local shops. Most shops won’t store cardboard boxes due to it being a fire risk, but what you can do is ask the staff when the delivery day is, and then pop in that day to collect some cardboard boxes before they are sent to recycling. After speaking to the manager of our local shop I found out the delivery day was a Wednesday afternoon, so every Wednesday evening for a few weeks I went along and collected as many boxes as I could carry. This saved us from buying a ton of new cardboard and gave cardboard that was due for recycling a second life before being recycled. Win-win!
Of course, you can’t move your goods with cardboard boxes alone. Fragile items need some form of protection from knocks and bumps during the moving process.
Whenever I have an upcoming move I ask friends to keep their old newspapers for us, which saves us from buying packaging paper. I also make a point of saving any packaging paper or bubble wrap that comes into our house prior to the big move, and I also ask my work to save any bubble wrap that comes in on deliveries.
If your work doesn’t get many deliveries, or if you don’t work, then another option to check out is Freecycle. From what I’ve seen over my years of using Freecycle is that if an item is no longer needed but can be of use to someone then a Freecycler will list it on Freecycle. I have seen some strange things pop up on Freecycle in my time, so I can assure you that invariably someone will offer a load of bubble wrap or a big bundle of newspaper or packaging paper that they have amassed and need rid of.
If you would rather avoid plastic bubble wrap there are eco-friendly alternatives to bubble wrap abound – from corrugated cardboard “bubble” wrap to packing peanuts made of corn starch that can be dissolved in water or placed in your composter.
In terms of tape to seal your boxes, something to try instead of conventional packaging tape is eco paper packaging tape. This tape is made from 100% recycled paper, with a latex-based adhesive that is completely biodegradable.
Consider A Carbon Neutral Removal Company
Now that we’ve covered packing, that last important step is the physical process of moving house. Something I’ll admit I have never previously considered are the carbon emissions associated with moving house, in particular, the carbon emissions generated by moving your possessions.
The next time I find myself moving house (which admittedly I hope isn’t for a long time!), something I will try is Buzzmove.
Buzzmove is an online price comparison site that makes it easy to find quotes for removal services in your local area. What’s more, Buzzmove is aiming to make removals booked through their site carbon neutral in 2018. They are doing so by partnering with removal companies who have pledged to plant trees in order to offset the carbon dioxide emissions associated with removals.
Because a tree can absorb up to around 22 kg of carbon dioxide per year – and as much as 907 kg by the time it reaches 40 years of age – Buzzmoze have calculated that planting 2,160 trees this year would offset the total carbon emissions their removal companies generate through using Buzzmove.
In order to plant the trees in a meaningful manner, Buzzmove has paired up with reforestation charity Trees for Life, who are working to restore the Caledonian Forest in the Scottish Highlands – an ancient forest and important wildlife habitat that has been severely deforested and could disappear in a few decades if replanting does not occur. Although it’s only early in the year, you can check out the Buzzmove grove of trees that they have planted in the Caledonian Forest so far.
At the moment, the campaign is in its infancy, so when you search for a removal company on Buzzmove you can’t see if they are part of the Trees for Life campaign. After speaking to Buzzmove they say their next step is to display a badge next to the removal companies names so the customer is aware that the removal company is part of the Trees For Life campaign or not. In the meantime, you can see which carbon neutral removal companies are taking part here.
In order to be featured on this page, and latterly with the badge, the removal company needs to make a commitment to donate to the Trees for Life Buzzmove removals grove, so you can be sure of making a carbon neutral house move.
Do you have any other eco friendly moving tips? Do let me know in the comments below!