Moving house - the eco way

Moving house - the eco way

There's nothing we do that can't be done better by factoring in some eco considerations. Moving house is often associated with sealing everything up in bubble wrap, but try to do without plastic at the very least

By Hari Alexander

Cardboard boxes are recyclable, but try to find recycled boxes for your move rather than buying new virgin cardboard ones. 

The key to a good move is organisation and knowing what's inside every box - so remember to label them, ie Kitchen, Bathroom, Garden Shed.. obvious yes, but it' surprisingly easy to forget to scrawl on the box the room it's destined for when you're rushing around like a blue arsed fly.
Go for pre-used cardboard boxes and alternatives to bubble wrap
Many house moving companies have been offering for some time high quality used boxes. They may charge you a nominal fee, and many firms will collect them when you’re finished with them, so you won't need to put the boxes out for recycling. This is far better for the environment - use, reuse and reuse again.
If you're packing things yourself, be wary of buying bubble wrap, even the stuff that says it's biodegradable. That's because you'll have all you need to wrap up delicate/fragile objects - towels, blankets, sheets.. and why not protect that glass vase by rolling it up in your dressing gown? Old newspapers are also good for wrapping - head to your local station at the end of an afternoon and gather up those Metro newspapers that no-one's taken. And of course newspapers are recyclable.
Find an eco-friendly removals firm
If you don't have some burly friends with a large van, chances are you'll need to find a removals company to move your belongings. You should look for reviews as to a firm's reliability and service and you should ask them about their environmental policy. A good sign is if their vans are full of blankets and they have piano dollies (trolley) which signal they know how to handle heavy yet precious pieces. You basically need a firm whose staff know how to pack and stack efficiently and effectively.
If you're on a budget, are moving fairly locally and don't have an enormous house load of furniture to move, it may well make more sense for you to book a so-called man with a van who can make a few journeys. A great big removals lorry will almost certainly run on diesel, so a nippy petrol van is a better option in the carbon footprint equation.
Get circular
If you're downsizing, see it as an opportunity to get into the circular economy. If you have too much stuff to take, then give pieces away to neighbours and friends, advertise them on Freecycle, take them to your local charity shop or sell them on Ebay. Aim to put nothing in the landfill bin. 
Some charities will pick up old furniture (that's in pretty good condition) for free, which they can sell in their shops. Charities that do this include Sue Ryder, The British Heart Foundation, and British Red Cross.  More dilapidated pieces of furniture can be upcycled - Crisis is a housing charity that has a furniture upcycling department, so contact them if you have a piece you feel could be transformed with some TLC. 
And remember, everything you can sell, give away, and donate is one less thing you have to pack and unpack. Lightening your load also means your move will take less time and you can save on transportation costs. 
Clean up before you go
It's nice to leave a place clean for the new inhabitants. If you've sold your house, a quick vacuum clean and wipe over with some hot water and vinegar shouid suffice. If you're a tenant and you're moving out, you'll find your agent will expect the place to be pristine if you're to get all your deposit back. You can do this yourself to save money, or there are plenty of home cleaning services around.