How to Move Out Sustainably

a couple carrying boxes downstairs
May 12, 2021
As we approach the end of Spring, it pays to start thinking early about what most of us save for the very last minute: move out! Moves can be extremely wasteful—and not just for busy college students. With the help of this guide, you can make things easier on yourself and the Earth this moving season. 

Sort It Out

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Before you start packing, it can be helpful find your unwanted goods a new home—whether through selling (i.e. yard sale, online marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace) or donating. While it is commonplace to donate clothing,  consider giving your unexpired nonperishable foods and unopened toiletries to a local shelter such as the Yale Hunger and Homelessness Action Project YHHAP. Moreover, you can safely dispose of electronic waste—items such as that forgotten iPod or disc player. Donating your items as early as possible saves you from trashing everything last minute—and gives someone in need perfectly good resources. 

Use the Materials You Have

Packing—i.e., the cardboard box, tape, and bubble wrap Olympics is understandably the most wasteful part of a move. Instead of buying one-use boxes, use objects that you already have at home, like a milkcrate or cooler. If you must use cardboard, try asking local shops for their discarded boxes after a new delivery. These boxes, which may be sturdier than normal, can be easily recycled later. Instead of bubble wrap or packing peanuts, wrap your delicate items in linens or clothes. This will simultaneously save room in the linens box and reduce unnecessary plastic use! 

Save the Best for Last 

Once you are in the middle of packing, it can be easy to switch to disposable items such as plastic utensils or paper napkins until you are completely moved out. To help with this problem, pack up your kitchen last. Instead of paper goods for clean-up, use old linens or shirts that you have deemed unfit for donation, as rags or mops. Hopefully, by packing smart, you can decrease the number of trips you have to take to facilitate the move. 

Keep it Consistent

Moving—or move out—can be overwhelming but taking the extra time to plan a strategic move will ultimately save energy and resources. Make sure, though, to transfer this spirit of sustainability to wherever you are relocating to. Everyday sustainability still remains key to cultivating a healthier Earth.