Save Money With These Eco-Friendly Moving Tips
Hello friends! I moved out of my Washington, D.C. apartment recently (hence my online absence), and though I absolutely in no way did a perfect job (I ended up throwing away more items than I would have liked to, but we’ll go over my missteps and what we can learn from them), I made an effort to limit the amount of waste created by my move. Moving - especially if you’ve been seated in one spot for quite a bit of time - can oftentimes involve a dumpster’s-worth of garbage, more or less.
Between the intense cleaning and a last-ditch effort to downsize the amount of stuff that’s coming with you, the last thing you might be thinking about is how you can simultaneously keep track of everything you need to do while still being kind to the planet. However, with a little bit of ahead-of-time planning, there are so many little things you can do to reduce the impact of your move in a way that might even make your move a little easier - and save you money!
Here are a few tips for making your move more eco-friendly
Rehome your furniture, in almost any condition
If your furniture isn’t coming with you, it doesn’t have to end up in the trash. Your furniture, particularly un-upholstered furniture, can be given a second life! Here are a few different ways you can rehome or repurpose your old furniture:
Sell it: If it’s in good condition, you can make a little money back on your furniture by selling it. Personally, I didn’t have access to a vehicle that could transport furniture, however all I had to do was list my items specifically “for pickup only” in my area. Letting buyers know that they would have to come get the furniture. Facebook Marketplace worked really well for me, I got responses to my listings immediately. You can also list furniture for pickup on Offerup, Mercari, Craigslist, etc. All of these websites are fantastic for selling your furniture into its new home. Alternatively, you can take your furniture to a secondhand shop and sell them there, but you’ll likely have to reduce your price.
Gift it: ask your nearby friends and family if they have any interest in the furniture you’re not taking with you.
Donate it: you can take your furniture to a local donation center, Goodwill or thrift shop. If your table has just too many scratches on it to sell, somebody can still get some really good use out of it if you donate it.
Specialty shops: if your furniture is a little old and run-down and you’re lucky enough to have a specialty store nearby, take your furniture to a local craftsman who might be interested in refurbishing your old pieces and upcycling them into something they can sell.
If you live in a busy neighborhood, leave your furniture on the curb: in cities especially (but this often works in busier suburban areas as well), if you leave your furniture, art or appliances out on the curb, a neighbor who’s looking for some new stuff may just take you up on your offer and pick up the item for themselves. My boyfriend actually scored a fire-pit this way; one day on the way to my house, he ran into this beautiful, gently used fire-pit / table that someone had left on the sidewalk along with a couple of other items. The previous owner happened to be standing in their yard, and gave my boyfriend the silent “go-ahead” to take the fire-pit. Upholstered furniture may be a bit tougher to give away, but most everything else can be picked up. In my experience, appliances and art tend to go fast.
If you’re in a time-crunch or it’s just not re-homeable, break it down and recycle the pieces: I had a cheap couch from Ikea with completely unsalvageable upholstery (I’m a painter, and also a foster-cat mom. My couch just didn’t survive), but thanks to its Ikea-ness (Ikea also has a furniture reselling program, but it only works for furniture in excellent condition), I was able to disassemble it all by myself with ease. I recycled all of the bits of the metal frame, and if the upholstery had been in slightly better condition I would have put it in a textile-recycling program, however due to some cat-related issues I figured the most sanitary thing to do was let that be something I disposed of.
Most of these same tips can apply to rehoming smaller things
Knick-knacks, appliances, toys, gadgets, clothes, art - sell online or to a thrift shop, donate, gift, or determine if it’s recyclable. There’s donation-demand for your old or unused items everywhere, even things like your malfunctioning electronics or your old prescription glasses. Appliances and electronics tend to sell relatively quickly, however knick-knacks, cook/dishware, clothing and décor may take longer to sell, so if you know you’re moving ahead of time but want to sell your items I would suggest listing them a few weeks in advance. Additionally, when selling anything online (as I’ve said before in my how to sell on Mercari video which you should definitely check out for selling tips), be as transparent as possible about the condition of your item. The right buyer who doesn’t mind the flaws will come along; don’t waste your own time by selling someone an item that isn’t in the condition they were expecting. It’s bad etiquette and they’ll probably want their money back.
Cleaning your place: making your clean-up environmentally friendly
This is where things can get a bit tricky. My leasing office asked me to thoroughly clean my apartment and all of its appliances before I moved out (as is proper when one is vacating a space). Before you start rushing to clean up, consider making these little adjustments:
Go for reusable rags or cloths instead of disposable sponges and paper towels.
If there must be trash, reach for the compostable trash bags. No, they won’t necessarily compost in the landfill, but it’s still better than buying plastic trash bags that will never break down at all.
Avoid harsh cleaners. I like Method cleaners (their kitchen degreaser was a big mood for my move), they’re widely available and do a pretty good job!
This wasn’t a perfect process for me, definitely. I ended up having to use some serious cleaning supplies to sanitize my place thoroughly, didn’t have enough rags to handle it, and had to throw away a lot of paper towels. Don’t feel guilty about not getting everything “right” when it comes to your move (or green-living in general, we’re all learning - check out this Instagram post from The Sustainable Fashion Forum on “eco-guilt,” which I definitely struggle with). It takes a bit of pre-planning, good timing, and there will almost certainly be some unexpected turns.
Got a bunch of food left? Let’s make a plan for it
The week before you move out - or whenever you’re about to do your final grocery-run - take a look at the food you have in your fridge and your pantry. Make a game out of trying to go through as much of your current supply as you can without buying too many fresh products from the store.
Use some of those non-perishables you’ve had laying around for ages. Got a container of oats? Instead of buying your daily plant-based yogurt for breakfast, make those oats! Got a couple cups-worth of flour in the pantry? Use it and some of your other old ingredients to bake something! Deviate from your usual meal-routine and play around with using up the stuff in your cabinet.
Decide which foods you definitely aren’t going to get to before you go. Then, decide which foods you are going to be taking with you to your next destination, and which foods you aren’t.
Pack away the foods you’re taking with you
Ask friends and neighbors if they’d like any of the unopened, unexpired food items you’re not taking with you, or donate them
Check your freezer and fridge for food items that are still good. Decide which items you’re going to use in your meals this week.
Once you’ve determined what recipes you’re going to make based on the food that you have - then you can make your grocery list of any fresh foods you want to go with them. Only buy foods that you are definitely going to eat before your move, in addition to what you already have at home.
My Biggest Advice: Plan Ahead!
As I mentioned above, I ended up having to toss out some items that I felt really guilty about. I wanted to keep my move as low-waste as I possibly could, however in my final 24-hours of running around to make sure that a) my apartment was clean and b) I downsized my items enough so that they could fit in my vehicle, there were some items that just didn’t get sold or picked up in time, some items I hadn’t even thought about, that didn’t make it to a new home. So, from my own experience, the most important piece of advice I can offer is to start selling/donating/repurposing your items well ahead of your move, so that you have enough time to figure out where everything is going. You probably have more extraneous stuff than you think, and if you start the process early, you’re less likely to be caught off-guard.
Do you have any tips for rehoming furniture or household items? Let’s chat in the comments!