5 Tips to Green Your New Apartment
With September 1st upon us, many people are busily packing up their belongings. It is easy to think of moving as a one-time process and dismiss it as inevitably wasteful. Besides, you only move once in a while, right? Wrong! The average American moves 11 times during their life, and an average move requires 60 boxes, along with all the other packaging supplies, gas, cleaning products, etc. To produce just those 60 boxes that get you from point A to point B, over half of one ton of a tree was sacrificed! And that’s only the start of your move’s carbon footprint.
Don’t panic. There are many ways you can decrease the carbon footprint of your move. Here are some tips to get you thinking:
Use the opportunity to sort through your items and pare down to what you really need. If you’re downsizing, this is a particularly important process. Waiting until the last minute will lead to items, likely still in good condition, ending up on the curb and in our landfills. This Earth911 article talks about surveying your stuff and dividing it into three categories: Sell, donate, or keep. It also talks about garage sales, but if that is too much effort, Craigslist makes it easy to make some green while being green. For items you can’t sell, consider donating them to organizations like the Salvation Army. You can schedule a time for them to come pick-up your items rather than dropping items off at their locations. You can even donate your old car!
Minimize perishable foods and donate non-perishable food items. A few weeks before your move, inventory your perishable food items. Plan your meals so that you incorporate these items and eliminate as much as possible to cut down on food waste. Non-perishable food items (and sometimes perishable as well) can be donated to your local food bank. If you’re using a mover and they partner with Move for Hunger, they will even move the food donations for you!
Purchase (or rent) sustainable boxes. Looking for an alternative to cardboard boxes? Depending on your location, there may be great resources for renting “green boxes,” such as Rent a Green Box in Southern California. If you don’t have a green box rental service near you, you can purchase used boxes or take advantage of U-Haul’s Take a Box, Leave a Box program that allows customers to pick-up free used boxes and leave boxes after your move is finished.
Choose a sustainable moving company. If using a moving company, try to choose one that uses sustainable practices. Ask whether they use bio-diesel fuel for their trucks and what types of packing supplies they offer, such as moving pads made of 100% recycled cotton.
New home, new habits! Take the opportunity to start leading a greener life at your new home. If you need new cleaning products, purchase green products to bring the place up to your cleanliness standards. Switch out the lightbulbs with CFLs (and make sure to save the old lightbulbs so that when you leave, you can take your CFLs with you!). You might even take the opportunity to start cutting down on your food waste by composting.
Whatever you can do will help lower the carbon footprint of your move, as well as save money and provide you with a little peace of mind during this hectic time. Good luck!