Moving can be a stressful event for us humans, but have you thought about the stress moving places on the environment? The transition into new living quarters is usually an energy-intensive process involving lots of packing materials, vehicle miles and the disposal of unwanted goods.
But there are eco-friendly options for movers keen to minimise their carbon footprint.
“When you’re moving house, you’re making a completely new start, so it’s a good opportunity to make that start with sustainability at front of mind,” says Tim Bishop, founder and co-director of Man With A Van.
Read on for our top tips for making an eco-friendly move.
1. Plan ahead
When it comes to moving, time is your best friend. If you start planning well in advance of your actual move date, you’ll have the time you need to make environmentally sound choices for every step of the moving process. Many people find themselves scrambling to get everything done at the last minute, and this inevitably leads to waste of some kind. If you get going two months ahead of your moving date, you’ll be able to tick a lot more sustainability boxes.
2. Book a carbon-neutral removalist
Yep, there is such a thing. Those big ol’ diesel trucks aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but there are companies out there doing their best to offset their carbon emissions.
Man With A Van is a great example. The company is not only offsetting its vehicles but all of its operations. Bishop says the company has been carbon offsetting its entire fleet of vans and trucks since 2006 by planting native trees with Greenfleet, a not-for-profit organisation committed to protecting the climate by restoring our forests. And the company operates almost paper-free thanks to a digital mobile scheduling system.
3. Trade in your unwanted items for cash or the warm fuzzies that come with gifting
It’s almost inevitable that you won’t take everything in your current home to your new digs. Moving gives us permission to cull, be it a piece of furniture that won’t work in the next place or snow gear we know we’ll never use again. Rather than leaving these items on the sidewalk for council collection, list them on online platforms like Gumtree, Facebook or eBay.
If you’d rather just give goods away, seek out your local charities or see if friends and family are interested.
For items past their use-by date, research local recycling centres so white goods and electronics are diverted from landfills.
4. Source reusable/recyclable packing materials
There’s no need for bubble wrap when we all have a linen cupboard full of packing materials. Bishop suggests starting with your own soft fabrics – think towels, sheets and blankets – only reaching for paper products when you’ve run out of pillowcases to wrap your vases in.
“If you don’t have old newspapers, we sell recycled packing paper, and we also sell boxes made from recycled materials,” he says.
You might be able to borrow a mate’s boxes, or there are plenty of places to source reusable ones.
5. Go green for your new utility and internet connections
You might be familiar with the government’s GreenPower program, which enables you to choose a green energy supply from your energy retailer, but did you know you can now choose to get your data from a certified carbon neutral telco?
Belong has calculated the carbon emissions of its products and invests in carbon offset projects that avoid or remove the same amount of emissions from the atmosphere. Projects include Telstra’s wind farm and solar park as well as forestation projects and offset programs owned and operated by First Nations communities. Belong is certified carbon neutral by Climate Active, an Australian government-administered initiative.
Head of Belong Jana Kotatko says customers can use their mobile phones and internet knowing the carbon emissions from their data usage have already been offset, at no extra cost to them.
“This is not something Belong wants to be uniquely famous for,” she says. “We want as many telcos as possible to clean up their act and come into the fray.”
6. Do a green clean
With so many eco-friendly cleaning products now readily available at your local supermarket, there’s no excuse for using toxic, chemical-driven formulas to get both your old and new abode sparkling.
Bishop says you can always go completely natural with the likes of vinegar, bi-carb soda and a good serve of elbow grease, a combo proven to shift the most stubborn of stains. The internet is swimming in green cleaning tips for every room and surface in the house, so get online and learn about the antibacterial qualities of the humble lemon.