A greener move

Despite our original plans for one of us to bike to the new apartment with the trailer (since we only have room for two of our three bikes on the trunk rack), I didn’t bike at all on moving day.  I certainly didn’t move by bicycle (while I think this is a cool idea, it was never in the game plan for us).

Don’t have a contingent of friends lined up with cargo bikes and trailers to help move you?  Fear not, there are many ways you can make your next move a little lighter on the planet!

Lighten your load
Know you’ll be moving sometime in the next few weeks or months (or even years, if you like to plan ahead)?  Now’s the time to embrace minimalism and overcome your hoarding tendencies. Attack any drawers, closets, sheds, or other storage-type spaces.  Depending on your time frame, this can be an ongoing project, not something you do all at once.

Sort items into four boxes/bags: 1) Donate/sell, 2) Recycle, 3) Trash, 4) Keep.  If you’re questioning whether or not you need something, you can probably just ditch it, but you could add a fifth “think about it” box.  Follow through on actually getting the items in boxes 1-3 out of the house.  It will feel good!

When it comes to moving, less stuff means less packing, fewer boxes for you or the movers, a smaller truck, and a faster, cheaper move.

Even with using this method, I was horrified by how many boxes we packed.  I would have liked to make more serious cuts before the move, but time ran out.  While I am eagerly opening the boxes that contain functional items that we use frequently (mostly kitchen boxes), there are others that I open and slam shut again, wishing I could just toss the contents into a big bonfire.  Moving on . . .

Rent reusable moving boxes
Several weeks ago, I read about reusable moving boxes over on Daily Garnish.  Emily rented her plastic boxes from a company in Seattle called karmaboxx.  I excitedly searched for plastic moving box rentals in St. Louis, only to find nothing.

While more expensive than reusing cardboard, renting plastic may cost less than buying new boxes, and, while I’m a bit skeptical about how many moves the plastic can handle before wearing out, you can check out this explanation and comparison between plastic and cardboard and decide for yourself.

If they had been available here, I would have been willing to pay a bit for the convenience of not having to deal with packing tape and breaking down boxes on the other end.

Collect used boxes
Ask friends, family members, and coworkers to save any moving boxes that are in good condition.  True, heavy-duty cardboard moving boxes definitely have more than one use if broken down carefully and stored in a clean, dry space.

We already had a good start on collecting used cardboard moving boxes, both some saved from the last move and many more from Matthew’s mom.  I was quite confident we had plenty of boxes, and then, in the eleventh hour, we had to run to Home Depot for a few more (thank goodness we found someplace open on a Sunday evening).  Lesson learned: You’ll probably need more boxes than you think you will, so collect extra.

Ditto for packing materials
If you don’t get a newspaper, ask others to save them for you.  Newspaper that’s headed for the recycling bin makes great packing material — reuse first, then recycle on the other end.  Towels, sheets, and other soft items that you have to move anyway can be useful packing material as well.

Get the right vehicle for the job
We made a few car and [borrowed] minivan runs for items we wanted to move ourselves, including our potted plants and framed pictures, plus a few last minute moving-day items.  Everything else fit on the truck — although it was close in the end (see earlier section on excessive boxes).

Unless you’re moving by bicycle, having a larger moving truck that can fit everything in one load will be more efficient than a smaller vehicle making multiple trips.

We are sloooooowly making progress on the unpacking front.  If we’re lucky, perhaps we’ll finish before finding a house we love and moving all over again!

Your turn!
What are your tips or tricks for more sustainable moves?


  1. I can’t help you out in Tulsa, but just wanted to let you know that companies that rent plastic moving boxes are opening up in major markets all the time. My Dad and I just launched one last month in West Palm Beach called Elf Boxes. I hope that others are as passionate about it as you are. 🙂

  2. This way, you can compare companies side by side without incurring any extra risk.
    As I am communicating services, Practical goal referring to the switching your property from stage A to suggest M.
    Getting the services of Long Distance Moving Company make your moving easy
    and very much less taxing.

  3. Hello! I just came across your blog while searching some info and wanted to followup – a little too late for this particular blog you published, but in November in 2012 we launched STL Rent A Box here in St. Louis and have been fully operating and growing since! Check us out http://www.stlrentabox.com

    1. Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      Hi Stacy. Thanks for stopping by! Great to know that this is an option in StL now. One of these days (or years) we’ll find a house to buy, and I’ll definitely keep this in mind!

      1. Stacy says:

        Thanks! I enjoy reading your blog and just wanted to share that bit of info! Have a great day!!

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