5 ways to make your move more sustainable

Room full of boxes packed up ready for moving day

Moving house is far from fun. A recent poll in the UK found that two-thirds of people rated shifting locations at the top of their stress list. And if you’re one of the many who are increasingly concerned about the impact we’re having on the natural world, there’s even more reason to prepare properly for packing up your things.

“Like all things humans do, moving house will have an impact on the environment,” says Planet Ark Environmental Foundation’s head of operations, Marty Middlebrook. “This includes the pollution created by the moving trucks, the rubbish created in the process of moving, energy consumption and products used in the cleaning of both the new and old homes.”

But there are a number of ways you can make your move easier on the world around us.

Think ahead

Before you do anything, grab a cuppa and take a little time to think through each stage of your move. This will help you not only to discover and adopt some green ideas but planning ahead also creates efficiency. “Try to ensure you have everything packed and sorted to minimise the number of trips to and from the new location to minimise greenhouse gas emissions,” Middlebrook says.

It’s also the time to ring around any removal companies that you might be considering and asking what sort of environmental policies they employ.

Declutter ruthlessly

Moving house is the perfect opportunity to purge your belongings. If you have time, put everything you own into labelled boxes. Once you’ve moved, check how long it takes you to get around to opening the box. “If you haven’t opened the box for three months, donate it to charity,” says Middlebrook. “You don’t need it!”

You can also recycle all manner of unwanted items, including e-waste such as television and computers that contain many potentially toxic chemicals

More top tips for decluttering

Gina Ciancio – Editor @ Style Curator
Try to only 'touch an item once' before deciding if you'll keep or get rid of it, and work your way through one zone at a time. Decluttering becomes hard when we keep going around in circles. 

Michelle Thompson-Laing – Founder & Editor @ Keep Calm Get Organised
My motto is "do you need it, do you love it, do you use it". If the answer is no... out it goes. Just because something was expensive or you may use it "one day", doesn't mean you should keep it. Be ruthless; don't keep things just in case.

Use recycled or reusable boxes

Australians dispose of 6.4 million tonnes of cardboard and paper products each year. “Unnecessary paper production creates greenhouse gas emissions, which can be reduced by reusing boxes,” says Middlebrook.

There are a number of ways you can decrease the amount of cardboard you use: search on Gumtree and local social media pages for used boxes; check that any new boxes you buy contain recycled material; or get your hands on reusable plastic crates, which some removal companies offer. You can also buy boxes from storage companies such as Kennards, which has a buy-back scheme when you return them for reuse.

Freecycle things you don’t need

If you have some furniture or other belongings that are in good condition but not needed in your new home, try to freecycle them. That is, give them away to people who can use them, as this prevents big items going into landfill.

You can get rid of these items on the Freecycle network, Gumtree or your local area’s Buy, Swap and Sell page on social media. And don’t forget to use your network of friends – especially those who might be setting up their first home – to see who’s in need of furniture.

Go green in your new home

Both your new and old homes will need a good scrub, and you can avoid harsh chemicals that are bad for the environment. “Choose environmentally friendly cleaners like Orange Power, or ask the cleaning company what their methods are,” says Middlebrook.

And when you’re establishing your new home, consider signing up to a green energy option or investing in solar power so your support for the environment lasts long past moving day.

To get you prepared for moving day, we've got your moving home checklist ready.