The average American moves 11 times in a lifetime … and nearly three-fourths of the population moves an average of once every five years. Each of those moves will take an estimated 50 boxes. Unfortunately, many people pay a lot of money for new boxes, then throw them in the trash — along with non-recyclable materials such as bubble wrap and styrofoam peanuts. Taking a few simple earth-friendly steps can save you money, keep packing materials out of landfills and reduce the number of trees it takes to make all those boxes.
Finding the boxes you need
Liquor store boxes are a sturdy old standby — wine boxes are great for holding glasses, bottles and vases. Bookstores and grocery stores are great sources for free boxes, as well. But the typical move requires larger boxes for fragile and oversized items. Try these strategies:
- Craigslist and FreeCycle are great places to find free or inexpensive moving boxes
- Check with your truck rental or moving company. U-Haul, for example, has a U-Haul Box Exchange to help customers find, sell or give away boxes and moving supplies
- Look into the latest eco-friendly way to pack: reusable plastic moving boxes. These boxes hold tons of stuff, stack beautifully and don’t require packing tape. Even better, many companies deliver the boxes to your old house and pick them up at your new house! Rent-a-Crate, BungoBox and FrogBox are a few of the companies offering this service
Green packing tips
Old newspapers make great packing materials, but here are other options to consider:
- Pad items with blankets, T-shirts, pillows, towels or bunched-up plastic bags
- Canvas bags used for grocery shopping make great hold-alls
- Do you own a paper shredder? Shredded magazines and junk mail make terrific packing materials. For boxes holding fragile items, line the box bottom with shredded paper to cushion the contents
- If you buy packing materials, look for compostable, biodegradable packing peanuts. You can dissolve them in water!
Recycle and reuse those boxes
Moving boxes are very sturdy and can be used many times, so do your best to keep boxes out of the trash or the recycling bin. Do a good turn by using Craigslist, FreeCycle or another resource to pass your boxes along to someone else. If you or other people you know move often, flatten the boxes for storage and keep them on hand.
We’d love to hear your money-saving, earth-friendly recycling tips. Please share in the comments below!