Moving across the country is a stressful, energy-draining experience. It’s difficult to remember everything you have to do, and the cost can cut a big hole in your bank account.
Many of us also worry about the stress that moving can place on the environment. It’s difficult to drive far without thinking about the excess pollution we’re putting into the air.
Transportation is a leading cause of air pollution and greenhouse gasses. According to the EPA, transportation is the second leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. Because more than 90 percent of our vehicle fuel is petroleum based, we release an estimated 7,000 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year.
Aside from the air pollution effects, there’s also the problem of waste when you do a big move. People often toss a lot of perfectly good furniture, clothing, and other household items, which fill up junkyards and increase the problem of waste in this country.
All the pollutants and material waste scream about the need for us to switch to eco-friendly moving techniques. Here are some of the things almost anyone can do during their next move to reduce the impact on the environment.
When you spend less on a move, several good things happen. First, you’re in a better financial position, and that helps the economy and encourages further spending in the eco-friendly sector.
Second, it may reduce your use of greenhouse-gas-emitting substances. People automatically assume it will be expensive to move a long distance no matter what, so many of them don’t put time and effort into reducing costs.
But there are always choices that can be made to make moving more affordable. Here are a few:
- Use space-saving bags and fewer boxes to make everything fit better in the moving truck. You might be able to purchase or lease a smaller truck and/or avoid multiple trips.
- Instead of buying new packing boxes, use old ones from around the house. Pick up used boxes from grocery stores to reduce waste and encourage recycling.
- Donate, sell, or recycle some of your belongings so you don’t have to move them all.
- For items you need to ship, identify an eco-friendly shipping method that’s fast, efficient, and convenient.
Each of these low-cost moving options has direct and indirect impacts on the environment. You’ll be able to move more efficiently and reduce pollution.
Use Recyclable Supplies
Cardboard boxes are the typical packing choice for moving goods. Though they can be recycled and used again, it’s better to go for reusable cartons.
More and more moving companies have recycled plastic bins that can be used up to 400 times. The companies will provide these bins on loan to anyone who doesn’t want to contribute to waste from cardboard boxes.
Biodegradable forms of boxes, bubble wrap, packing peanuts, and foam wrap are also highly recommended. Plastic can take millions of years to decompose in landfills, so alternative packing materials that break down quickly are a highly desirable alternative.
Recycle Old Goods
Household goods that can’t be sold at a yard sale are usually taken to the landfill where they contribute to the growing problem of waste disposal and groundwater contamination. Instead of contributing to the problem, donate or recycle your household goods.
Goodwill, the Salvation Army, Deseret Industries, and other thrift-store organizations in your area will take your gently used household goods and put them in the hands of someone who needs them. Many of these programs also have recycling programs in which they reuse items that can’t be sold.
For example, Deseret Industries takes old clothing that is not suitable for resale, recycles it, and uses it as stuffing in such furnishings as mattresses. If you don’t know how to recycle your products to reduce the problem of waste, hand the items over to someone who does.
Choose Better Transportation Options
Most moving trucks have terrible fuel economy. Maybe it would be better to say they have none.
Even a small truck will get about nine miles per gallon and the large ones can boast of no more than five mpg. In addition, the EPA estimates that a small truck will emit 22 pounds of carbon dioxide for every 10 miles it drives, and a large truck may eject 40 pounds over the same distance.
If you’re traveling thousands of miles across the country, think of the impact this will have on the environment! You might wish to look into greener fuel options.
Biodiesel fuel, for example, reduces the amount of carbon dioxide released into the air. You can also reduce emissions by transporting your car via train rather than driving it across the country. Any change you can make to reduce CO2 is a win for the environment … and indeed, all of us.