If you’re due to move house soon, you will have a lot on your mind. From praying that the removals van will turn up to working out who will take care of your children
and pets on the big day, there are a lot of things to think about!
One thing that may have slipped your attention so far is the environmental cost of moving house. Even in an age wherein we’re ever more mindful of our energy and plastic consumption, it’s perhaps surprising to realise just how much a typical moving day can negatively affect the environment.
In fact, house moves create a huge amount of CO2 emissions - around 16.8kg per move - but by being aware of the issues and making some better, informed choices, you can make your house move more eco-friendly. Those choices will often have the added benefit of being better for your budget, too - a win-win situation!
We’ve compiled a list of ways in which your house move could have an impact on the environment, and the steps you could take to try to reduce that impact.
1. Declutter early
The more you own, the more you’ll have to move. The more you have to move, the more trips you’ll need to make between your old house and new home. The more trips you’ll make, the greater your CO emissions will be and the more packaging you’ll need to use.
Most removals companies charge according to the number of expected trips or amount of boxes to be moved, so there’s a real financial incentive to declutter and only take what you really need and want to keep when you move.
Work room-by-room to give yourself a feeling of accomplishment. It can feel draining and unproductive to do bits of decluttering here and there - blitz one room and then move onto the next. Get rid* of clothing that doesn’t fit, toys that are never played with anymore (assuming your children agree…), and books that you’re not going to re-read. Have a look in your shed: what will you actually need in your new home? For example, if you have half-empty paint tins, kept in case you needed to touch up the paintwork in your old house, take them to your recycling centre to have them safely disposed of.
* By ‘get rid’, we mean recycle: give them away to friends, family or charity; sell them online; take them to a recycling centre if they can’t be used by anyone again. You can also donate electronics to some charities such as Crisis or Shelter.
2. Reduce food waste
Food and liquids don’t travel well. Start making meals out of whatever you find in your freezer and cupboards. This might mean having ‘mystery defrosted sauce’ on your pasta (those leftovers you didn’t label, thinking you’d easily recognise it at a later date…), or eating a lot of frozen vegetables and ready meals. Be prepared to endure a lot of beans-based meals. If you have bottles of pop or cordial, get drinking to use as much of it as you can. Think of how hydrated you’ll be!
If you really can’t stomach another tin of beans or soup, remember that your local food bank will gratefully receive all donations of unopened, in-date food. They'll also accept donations of unused toiletries. Taking these items there will not only benefit the recipients, it’ll mean you have a lot less to transport on moving day.
3. Use alternatives to packing boxes
Some removals firms will lend you large, strong plastic containers that you can use instead of cardboard packing boxes (plastic containers or 'bins' can also be rented). Alternatively, use receptacles you might already have in your house such as suitcases and even the drawers from your cupboards to transport your belongings to reduce the number of boxes you’ll use. If you do have to use cardboard, remember that these can be stored flat and used again (up to three or four times) so you can keep them for future use or give them away to others who may be moving house. As a last resort, remember to take them to your local recycling plant.
4. Use alternatives to traditional plastic wrapping
To protect delicate items, bubble wrap or styrofoam are the materials of choice for most removals firms. Unfortunately, these are not recyclable. To avoid these, wrap delicate items in towels, blankets and clothing items to keep them safe, or consider using biodegradable bubble wrap or newspapers.
5. Choose your removals firm carefully
Removals firms are slowly becoming more eco-friendly and more willing to offer services such as surveys (to determine the cost of your house move) via video rather than in person. This reduces the amount of CO2 they would otherwise use in travelling to and from your home for the survey. Given that you might get two or three surveys from different companies, this small step could markedly reduce your house move’s carbon footprint.
Ask your removals companies what vehicles they use - are they EEV (Energy Efficient Vehicles)? These have strict particle emission limits, reducing the impact on the air quality in your area that could otherwise seriously impact the health of others.
6. Keep your furniture out of landfill
We send hundreds of thousands of tonnes of furniture to landfill every year in the UK. If you have furniture that’s seen better days, or that you know won’t fit into your new home, start planning what to do with it now. If you don’t want to get rid of your furniture but are not sure whether it will fit in your new home, you could always put it in a self storage unit for a few days or weeks until you’ve settled in and can make room for it.
If you know it won’t fit into your new home but it’s still in good condition, you could sell it or give it to charity - many charities will collect it from your home. If not, contact your local council to see how to recycle it. Many councils will collect items (including mattresses, sofas and large white kitchen goods) from your garden or driveway (for a very small fee) rather than risk it ending up fly-tipped.
To reduce the carbon emissions involved in the council or charity driving to collect your items, try to ensure that all such items are put out for collection at the same time.
7. Start good habits in your new home
If you’re buying your new home, check whether its walls and loft are insulated: if not, put that in place straight away to save on energy bills as well as reduce your home’s carbon footprint. Look into whether you can have solar panels fitted (some companies offer this for free in exchange for the excess energy produced) or whether geothermal heating is an option. These steps will take a bite out of your capital, but in the long term will reduce your monthly spending and, of course, spare the environment. Little steps you could take include fitting energy-efficient bulbs and ensuring that any new appliances you buy are rated A or better.
If you're facing a house move soon and need storage before, during or after do get in touch as we have nearly 120 stores nationwide
so more than likely to have one near you.