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Climate Action Day – what about moving home?

  1. 23 November 2019
  2. By Daisy Stephens

This Climate Action Day, we’ve asked people moving house how they’ve tried to reduce the ecological impact of their move.

With all the organising, decluttering, packing and repacking that has to be done in the run up to moving day, you could be forgiven for not prioritising the environment. But as we become more and more aware of the impact of our lives our planet, we at reallymoving became curious about whether these changing attitudes affect how, when and why people move house.

We carried out a small survey of people who moved home in the past six months – 53% of people said they were especially aware of being eco-friendly during their move. But what are they doing about it?

We look at how those moving home are doing what they can to care for the planet during their move, with comment and advice from bloggers Amy Benziane and Bethan Lloyd-Thomas, who both moved recently and kept eco-friendly choices at the heart of their decisions.

Planning the move

26% of people surveyed said that environmental awareness played a part in where they decided to live. For example, by choosing a property close to the station and local shops, movers may completely eliminate the need for a car.

The type of property they chose to move was also a factor for 20% of respondents. Opting for energy-efficient homes is becoming increasingly popular, not just for environmental reasons but for economic ones too. Research by climate expert and author Mike Berners-Lee found that the demolition of an old building and construction of a brand-new two-bedroom cottage in its place produced about as much CO2 as 24 economy-class trips from London to Hong Kong. Leaving the original old, energy-inefficient house alone works out even worse.

However, refurbishing the existing property to maximise energy efficiency produces a tenth of the carbon emissions of rebuilding from scratch. It might be that more and more people are opting for ‘upcycled’ houses – not new, but not old either.

Amy says, “Our whole move was designed to make our lives more simple and part of that was eco-focussed. We were tired of fast-paced, consumption-obsessed London so we sold our home of 10 years, took what we most enjoyed – books, nature, music, teaching – and moved somewhere we’d have more time for them. We chose a flat that was near the local supermarket so we can get plastic-free food for cheap. We also chose a place to live that’s fab for bikes, so we could sell our car.”

Preparing the move

In the post-Blue Planet era, Sir David Attenborough says that “the world is waking up” when it comes to plastic, and our research certainly seems to back this up. A whopping 60% of people surveyed said that eco-consciousness affected their choice of packing materials, with plastic being cited as the most common concern.

A further 26% also reported that they considered the environment when choosing their removals service. This could be because of the type and amount of packing materials removals firms use when offering packing services – there’s likely to be less of it and it’s more likely to be recyclable or reusable. Other things, such as the fuel efficiency of their vans, may also play a role.

Bethan says, “I managed to do the move packaging-free because I’ve got long-term storage boxes that I use for moving, then stack them up and store them for next time. I also decluttered and donated my unwanted stuff to charity shops, and recycled what I could – I had to throw away a few things, but only when there weren’t any other alternatives. Decluttering also meant that I didn’t need to hire a big van or lorry, and could do the entire move in just two trips in small car.”

After the move

As you may know, the moving process doesn’t stop the minute you arrive in your new home. You’ll have unpacking, cleaning, decorating and furnishing to do, and 33% of our respondents said that they considered the environment here, too. Buying second hand, upcycling their old furniture, recycling moving boxes and ensuring cleaning supplies are not harmful to the environment are just some ways movers try to reduce the eco-footprint of their move once they’re in their new house.

Bethan says, “Although I didn’t need any new furniture this time round, when I do I’ll definitely buy my furniture second hand and via recycling organisations – not only is it eco-friendly, it’s also a great way of saving money.”

Whilst 53% of people thought of themselves as eco-conscious during their most recent home move, 71% said they’d be more environmentally conscious if they were to move again in the future, so it does feel as though the tides are turning. As environmentally-friendly options for things like packaging, vehicles and shopping become more reliable and more accessible, you might find it becomes even easier to reduce the ecological footprint of your house move.

You can visit Bethan’s blog, BLT Blogs, for more tips on how to live and buy sustainably.

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