Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Moving green

Being the ever-frugal and environmentally conscious person that I am (or try to be), I wanted our Colorado-Illinois trek to have as minimal an impact on the earth and our bank account as much as possible. And now, with a month or so remove on it, I still feel like we did pretty well. Here's what went right, what went wrong, and some things that might help you the next time you have to uproot.

Shedding. I have gone from pack rat to compulsive shedder. (When I announced this to my husband, he hugged me with tears in his eyes. “Finally!” he said. “You’re one of us!”) It’s always been part of the “thrift” thing – “What if I need it one day?” So I lugged things around for 10 years or more, waiting for the day when I might need it. Then, when we realized we were moving, I looked around and, through my tears, said, “Well, I don’t want to take all this stuff.” I didn’t need this weight, this dormant energy that 20 boxes of unused stuff brings. Why not send it out into the world, to spread joy and comfort to those who need it (if I haven’t used it for 10 years, clearly I don’t)? So I did, and I threw very little away. And I’ve never felt better.
Have a yard sale (or two). Sell it on Craiglist or eBay. Put it on Freecycle. Give it to your local charity thrift store. Give it to friends. Spread the wealth (and create a little wealth for yourself), and keep it out of the landfill!

Boxes. Thank goodness my natural pack-rat tendencies led to my having saved every barely usable box I’ve accrued since college – we didn’t have to buy a single box this time! Family and friends also gave us some boxes, totally unsolicited. Never turn down gifts of boxes at moving time.
If you don’t have a stockpile from which to draw, or friends who will give or lend you boxes, get freebies from the liquor store or grocery store. That’s where many of ours came from in the first place. They’re free, and they’re strong; and by taking them off their hands, you’re keeping them out of the waste stream.

Packing materials. We had some leftover bubble wrap, which we reused, but mostly I multi-tasked my newspaper subscription (which helps an industry close to my heart in the first place). I say pish-posh to those who insist that one must pack in something other than newspaper – if you wrap your fine things well (as you would a present, but without the tape) and in a couple of layers of paper, you’ll have little to no breakage. (I always make sure to wash my plates and cups once they make it to their destination.) It’s so much cheaper, and it’s recyclable.
Another idea, which I used to great effect, is to use towels and sheets as packing materials rather than packing them separately.

Moving truck. We rented a Penske truck, the biggest one we could get (after all, there are six of us). One reason we picked Penske was that it purported to get 500 miles per diesel tank. But even on almost exclusively highways, and even with using cruise control, we found it got about half that. (We think they figured the mileage on an empty truck. Because who doesn’t rent a truck to PUT NOTHING IN IT? Thanks for the bait-and-switch, Penske. End of rant.)
We were paying for the move ourselves; thus, we did the whole thing ourselves. This was the balance we had to strike. If you are able to hire professional movers, it’s worth checking Green Movers to get a quote. Their partner movers are taking steps to reduce carbon emissions and their contributions to the waste stream. If yours is a local move, you might be able to find a mover that uses biodiesel-powered trucks (a little Google searching ought to help you there).


Jen said...

wow, you saved boxes. I used to do that too. You don't meet box-savers very often. ;) Glad to hear your done w/them!

Dont' forget Freecycle.org. It's been a godsend to me w/my move. All the small junk that seems dumb to have moved, has gone to others! AND, they come and pick it up. Some of my given items: old wreaths, small dry erase boards, cactus plants in the yard (they dug them up), small jars, bird feeder, etc.

Glad to hear it went smoothly. There is so much opportunity for things to go wrong, especially when moving a group of people. I'm sure, in no small part to your efforts! :)

Robin said...

Hi Jen,
Oh yeah, Freecycle is awesome. I've written about it before; I can't say enough good things about it.

Except for the fact that I can't find the phone, the move has been pretty successful.