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Greener Home Moving – How to Avoid Waste When Relocating

Packing up and moving home can be wasteful. Here are three steps you can take to make relocating a zero waste experience, from a sustainability and product reuse expert, Lauren Sadler.

Greener Home Moving – How to Avoid Waste When Relocating

1. Pack responsibly using second-hand boxes

Most people use cardboard boxes to pack up their belongings, but buying packaging materials from a local store or online usually means buying new boxes. Even if these cardboard boxes claim to be recycled, they still contain a proportion of new tree fibres, and the process of manufacturing itself uses large amounts of water and energy.

To help protect the environment, you can use secondhand boxes. This extends their life and prevents unnecessary use of natural resources. Some companies specifically sell used boxes but you can also find them for free at grocery stores or on local social media groups.

2. Protect your belongings with recyclable materials

The majority of people who pack boxes to move house do so with bubble wrap which is plastic and can’t always be recycled or reused. Although bubble wrap is an effective method for protecting items, it is better to use something more environmentally friendly.

Many of us have small cardboard boxes left over from home deliveries (e.g. Amazon boxes) and these are perfect for tearing up into smaller pieces and placing them as padding to fill in any gaps in the boxes. This stops your belongings from moving around which prevents breakages.

You can use scissors to cut up the packaging into nice neat strips, but if you’re pressed for time, simply tear it up! Stuff those pieces into the boxes and secure them with tape.

Another great option is using old unwanted magazines. Use these to wrap up glassware and crockery, pushing the paper into the glasses to stop them from shattering in transit. You can also screw the pages up into balls and use them to plug any spaces between items.

eco friendly packing with cardboard and paper

3. Recycle and reuse after the move – waste nothing!

Once you’ve moved, unpacked, and settled into your new home there might be some mess to tidy up – you’ll have a stack of used boxes and some shredded cardboard and magazines left over at this stage.

The pieces of cardboard and paper can be recycled very easily via municipal collections or a local recycling centre; whichever is most convenient in your area.

Remember those second-hand boxes? Believe it or not, these can be used again!

Cardboard boxes can be used many times before they must be recycled as long as they are not badly damaged – any damaged ones can be recycled straight away. You may be able to sell your boxes on sites like Gumtree or Facebook marketplace to someone else who is moving house. Or, if you got your boxes for free, pay it forward by offering them to someone for nothing. As a last resort, your boxes can be recycled.

Those are your three steps to a greener house move. They require no extra effort and anyone can decide to reuse and recycle during relocation.

There’s no doubt that moving house can be a bit of a headache, so as well as tips for an eco-friendly move, here are some general tips to make everything go a little smoother.

Expert house moving tips

Professional movers have a lot to say about what to do and what not to do when packing up for a move. Here are three top tips, with things you can do now to help you plan for the big day.

1. Avoid using plastic bags

Whether you’re doing the move yourself or using professional movers, avoid packing in bags. Not only is it better to avoid plastic for environmental reasons, but bags are much harder to move and will slow down your efforts. You can fit less in them, they’re liable to tear and it requires more back-and-forth between your home and the van. Just use boxes!

2. Label your boxes by room

Use a marker pen to note down which room your box is destined for at the new property. When the van is unloaded, your belongings will end up in the right place and unpacking will be easier. If you are using professionals and show them which room is which upon arrival, they will gladly take your boxes straight to where they belong.

Moving box labelled with fragile and kitchen

3. Keep essentials to hand

Wouldn’t it be great to arrive in your new place and instantly make a coffee for you and your team without searching through a big stack of boxes to find it? Keep essentials with you, for example, medication, laptops, coffee, and snacks, to make your move as simple and stress-free as possible.

All of the tips and guides here can be applied to commercial moves (like moving office or warehouse) as well as domestic moves like finding your forever home.

If you are moving house, apartment, or office and are mindful of your environmental impact, follow the steps above to ensure that nothing is wasted in the process.

Lauren is Head of Sustainability and Communications at Sadlers. She holds an MSc in Sustainable Development, is passionate about the circular economy, and enjoys writing about packaging, business, and sustainability - particularly zero waste and reuse. Sadlers is a cardboard box reuse company, specialising in the supply of once used cardboard boxes delivering low cost, environmentally friendly packaging solutions. In addition, the family-run company initiates cardboard box reuse schemes with volume producers of cardboard waste.

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