These 10 Small But Impactful Steps Will Make You Less Wasteful When Moving

published Apr 20, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Prop Styling: Alex Brannian

Moving feels so wasteful, doesn’t it? All that extra plastic and cardboard tends to get thrown into the trash, where it goes on to pollute the environment. If you want to be more mindful of how you move — and more sustainable overall — follow these 10 tips from sustainability and moving experts.

1. Do your best to declutter and donate. 

“Be very thoughtful about what you are going to bring to your new home,” says Lauren Saltman, a professional organizer and owner of Living. Simplified. “Take the time to measure your current furniture and decide prior to moving what furniture will fit in your new place. By doing this exercise, you won’t move large pieces of furniture that aren’t necessary. Instead, you can sell or donate the unneeded furniture. This way you won’t waste time, money or energy moving items you don’t need, use, or want anymore.”

2. “Dress” your things in outfits and bags.

If you’ve got a bunch of suitcases or totes (who doesn’t?), then use them to wrap your things inside. Your clothes, socks, and towels can also be used for smaller items.

3. Reuse packing materials. 

“When you know you will be moving, start saving packaging and boxes you get in the mail and be sure to ask friends and family to do the same,” says Lisa Sharp from “You will be amazed how much material you can get just from this simple task.”

4. Ask for old newspaper editions. 

But if you do need newspaper, don’t fret. “You can always ask your local newspaper for copies of old editions rather than buying paper or bubble wrap to pack,” says Brendan Hogan, owner at Asheville Area Movers.

5. Properly protect your belongings. 

Keep your things in the best shape possible by carefully wrapping everything. Use items like mattress bags and shrink wrap to keep everything clean during the move. The better care you take of your things, the longer they’ll last. If you don’t have to buy new things, don’t.

6. Donate your leftover food. 

One thing that people who are moving frequently forget about is their food — and with so many other things to worry about, lots of it ends up in the trash or simply left behind,” says Jeff Constantino, the communications director at ReFED.

Move for Hunger is a great organization that can connect people to a network of moving companies that accept food donations and deliver them to local food pantries and other distribution partners — all free of charge. Move For Hunger works with more than 1,080 moving companies, 2,600 apartment communities, many of the leading relocation management companies, corporate housing providers, and real estate professionals in all 50 states. It’s an easy thing people can do to be more sustainable.”

7. Pick eco-friendly movers. 

“Look for an eco-friendly moving company that offers electric trucks or vans to curb the environmental impact from emissions,” says Natalie Lennick, founder of Green Ablutions.

8. Recycle what you can. 

“You don’t have to completely change the way you pack to make a positive impact on the planet,” says Mallory Micetich, home care expert at Angi. “Swap your moving boxes, bubble wrap, packing peanuts, and tape for recyclable versions.”

9. Repurpose cardboard boxes at your new home. 

“Use cardboard boxes to create a strong weed barrier in your garden or under mulch on pathways,” says Lauren Kendzierski, a sustainable chef and food business expert.

10. Try rental crates and containers. 

“Sometimes you need something sturdier than cardboard boxes,” Micetich says. “Instead of purchasing your own plastic containers, rent them from a moving company. This ensures that the containers will be reused again and again, and as a bonus, you don’t need to worry about storing or disposing of them when you’re done.”

Credit: Apartment Therapy

This piece is part of Green Week, where we’re talking about ways to make eco-friendly choices and contributions at home. Head over here to read more!