The environmental impacts of moving house are not often discussed, lost amongst the contract-signing, suitcase-packing haze of the run up to moving day. But the vehicle emissions, waste production and even cleaning associated with moving house all have environmental implications. But fear not! There are things you can do to reduce the footprint of your move.
Reducing air pollution
Limit your trips
Driving between your old and new home, runs to the tip or charity shop, popping to the shops for more supplies… there are all kinds of errands that need to be done in the run up to moving day, but avoid the car if you can. If there are jobs that you need to drive for – for example, taking furniture to charity shops – try to get them completed in one day, as a time-saver and an incentive to minimise them.
Choose eco-friendly services
Your choice of services can affect the environmental impact of your move. Check out the eco policies of removal companies and take them into account when selecting one. Look for companies that have energy efficient vehicles like hybrid vans or vans that run on biodiesel. If you can’t find any, check out what companies are doing to neutralise their carbon emissions. You can help, too – the shortest or cheapest routes might not always be the most energy efficient. Reduce carbon emissions by planning a route for both you and your removal company that uses wide, well maintained roads and avoids roads that are difficult to drive along (including steep inclines).
If you plan on putting your belongings into storage
at any point during your move, you can make environmentally-conscious decisions here too. Opt for well-insulated facilities that use renewable energy sources like rooftop solar panels, wind power or heat pumps, have energy efficient, motion-sensored lights, and do what they can to limit their water usage.
Cutting contribution to landfill
By decluttering before your move
, you’re not only saving yourself money by having less to move but you’re also helping the environment. Smaller, lighter moving vans use less petrol and so contribute less to air pollution.
Just be mindful of what you do with the things you decide not to take to your new house. You’ll be busy, but resist the temptation to just throw it all away. Begin by taking out anything you think you could make money on – think car boot sales or online resources like eBay or the Facebook Marketplace. Secondly, separate out things that are still usable but you don’t think you could successfully sell online – maybe they’re too big to transport, or the selling fees would be more than the amount you’d get for them. Instead, take them to charity shops, post them on Freecycle or donate them to friends and family. Finally, take out anything that can be recycled. As well as basics like paper, plastic, glass and metal, you might be able to find somewhere that will take old electronics for parts. This ensures that only things that can go nowhere else are thrown away.
Be careful with your packing materials
It’s easy to work through cardboard boxes, bin liners and packing materials like tape and bubble wrap without thinking of the environmental implications. But the majority of your cardboard boxes, bubble wrap and Styrofoam packing materials will end up in landfill.
If taken care of, cardboard boxes can be used up to four times. So, before buying your own, talk to anyone you know who’s moved recently or post on social media to see if anyone’s got any you could use. You could even rent reusable plastic boxes instead of using disposable materials. If you can’t find second hand boxes and are unable to hire plastic ones, try to ensure that as much of the materials you use as possible are recyclable – or avoid throwing them away afterwards and instead pop them on freecycle or give them away. Also, avoid plastic where you can – bed linen and curtains can be just as good as protecting fragile items as bubble wrap. If you don’t have enough of these or are worried about them getting damaged, check out eco-friendly disposable packing supplies – for example, some companies are starting to produce biodegradable bubble wrap and paper-based tape.
The more time you leave to prepare for your move, the more time you have to employ environmentally-friendly measures. Decluttering is all very well, but if you don’t leave time to sort through the stuff you’re getting rid of then the chances are the majority of it will just end up in landfill.
Also, your fridges and freezers will need to be empty for the move so start using up food way in advance. The less you have to throw away, the smaller the environmental footprint of your move.
You can also reduce your environmental impact by having a Moving Day Survival Kit
. By preparing moving day food and drink well in advance and investing in reusable water bottles, you’ll eliminate the need to buy packaged drinks and snacks on the day.
Buy second hand
You may well need to decorate and furnish when you get to your new home. Save time and money by getting as much as you can second hand – eBay, Freecycle, charity shops, Facebook Marketplace and buying from friends and family are all cheap, eco-friendly ways of obtaining furnishings for your new home. You’ll stop them from ending up in landfill and you might have some fun along the way – upcycling is the new recycling. Could you make a lampshade out of old glass bottles? Could an old ladder become a coat stand? And what about your old suitcases? Could they be wall-mounted cupboards, or pet beds, or even plant pots? The more creative, the better. And all the items will tell a story, too!
Limiting chemical damage
There’s unavoidably a lot of cleaning involved in the moving process. Opting for eco-friendly cleaning products prevents harmful chemicals from making their way into the environment. You could even make your own, which not only protects the environment but is also a money-saver. A multi-purpose cleaner can be made from ¼ cup of white vinegar, 1 tablespoon of baking powder, ½ a squeezed lemon and a litre of hot water.
Once you’re all moved in, you can use your EPC as a guide to improving the energy efficiency of the property. But moving day and the weeks leading up to it can be stressful and it’s easy to forget the environmental principles you follow on a day-to-day basis. We hope you find these tips useful in minimising the environmental impact of your move – and you’ll find that some of them are money-savers, too!
More help with making your move eco-friendly