Posts Tagged waste reduction

Moving and Packing: The Hidden Cost of Move-Out Waste

I’m moving again. Moving reminds me how much stuff I have, and how much stuff I don’t want. This time, I’m moving across the country with a boyfriend (who is then flying across the country to move again — to Boston) and a pet bunny (who has a large cage) … and basically no space for anything but clothes, my computer and a few kitchen items.

Moving forces me to fix or toss the broken things, to use up or throw away the half-used things. It brings me into up-close and personal contact with my Stuff. I have a lot of it. It is stressful.

We are starting early, and have so far taken advantage of the following godsends:

  • Half-Price Books paid me cash for books and DVDs I can’t keep
  • Turnstyle consigns good quality clothes and housewares I don’t want
  • Wells Fargo exchanges foreign currency I won’t be using (at a high price, I’m sure, but oh well) and turns my coins into dollar bills
  • Whole Foods recycles #5 plastic (like take-out clamshells and yogurt containers)
  • It’s In the Bag helps me recycle plastic film and bags at my grocery store
  • The food shelf at Mississippi Market (because I don’t want to take canned pumpkin or vegetarian gravy mix for Thanksgiving season in California)
  • Eureka Recycling for taking shredded paper (stapled in a paper bag), and a scanner for turning my acres of paperwork into pixels
  • The jewelry repair shop, which replaced my watch batteries and is fixing a broken bracelet
  • A kids’ nonprofit, for needing donations of school supplies (oh boy are you getting them)
  • Goodwill. I’ve been 3 times in the last 2 weeks.

Remarkably, all this extra effort has saved me money — I made $45 this past weekend.

And I’m not alone — here are some links to more about people, governments, businesses, and colleges and universities working to reduce move-out waste.

Amanda Wills, East Coast Editor of Earth 911.com, describes steps she took to green her cross-country move from Phoenix to New York. My favorite — mapping your road trip to avoid elevation changes, and getting an oil change/tire pressure checked before you leave.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources also offers tips for greening your move. My favorite is asking your landlord if you can leave reusable cleaning supplies for the next tenant — because there is no way I’m packing my plunger. There just is no way. Ew.

The City of Davis, CA Recycling Program helps apartment complexes throw Move-Out days at the end of August with donation stations for unwanted, reusable items. New residents and nonprofits are welcome to choose items for free from the donation stations.

Spencer Brown, who founded Rent-a-Green-Box in Costa Mesa, CA (where I’m moving!) was troubled by single-use cardboard boxes and tape, estimating that 100 boxes are used in each move and then thrown in the landfill. His company makes and rents green boxes called RecoPacks, which are manufactured from hard-to-recycle plastics like bleach bottles. Read more from LA Yoga Magazine.

A similar central Ohio business called EcoPack was later founded by Gavin Derryberry and Nick Harpster. Read more from ThisWeek News: Dublin, OH.

And the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education has a ton of articles about campus move-out days that reduce moving waste at colleges and universities.

What are your favorite tips for making a move as painless and waste-free as possible?

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