How to move house sustainably
If you’re looking for ways to reduce your impact on the environment, one area you can make changes is when you’re moving home.
“In 2018, the transport industry as a whole was responsible for almost a third of all CO2 emissions in the UK, and moving house contributes to this total,” says Sam Rose, Company Director at ‘environmentally-aware’ removal company Green Man & Van.
“The packaging and waste created by the industry continues to add to global plastic pollution. It is therefore important when moving house to try and use companies that are committed to reducing or mitigating their impact on the environment.”
Think outside the box
One easy way to be more responsible about the world’s resources is by using second-hand packing boxes rather than buying new. Look on websites such as Nextdoor, Freecycle and Gumtree, where you’re likely to find boxes for nothing.
By taking them off someone else’s hands, you’ll also be stopping them from going to waste. Try and find the most local option so you don’t have to jump in the car to get them.
Cut out single-use plastic
We’re waking up to the effects of plastic pollution on land and at sea. Thankfully, there are an increasing number of products designed to cut plastic out – including in the packaging world.
You’ve got fully compostable and recyclable paper packing tape as an alternative to sticky tape, and paper bubble wrap to replace the traditional plastic variety.
Products made from recycled materials in the first place will also mean fewer trees cut down to make them. Of course, there’s a more straightforward option out there that’s easily recycled or reused – scrunched up old newspaper.
You could also use your towels, bedding and clothes to protect fragile items.
Pay it forward
Don’t forget, any packaging you use, you can complete the virtuous circle and pass it all on for someone else once you’ve moved. Try the websites previously mentioned.
Find an environmentally conscious removal firm
Sam Rose advises customers searching for a sustainable removal company to look for those trying to provide solutions that minimise their impact. For example, Green Man & Van are carbon-neutral and combine biodiesel made from recycled cooking oil with their fuel to reduce CO2 emissions.
Sam suggests: “Look for companies that use electric vehicles where possible or carbon offsetting – look into how they achieve this and through what scheme. Does it benefit the environment? What other ways do the company use to reduce environmental impact?
“Renewable energy to power their servers? Do they cycle to quotes or use recycled packing materials?”
Research van hire
If you’re handling your move yourself, and wondering what the transport options are, Sam has some thoughts.
“In terms of opportunities to be more sustainable there are increasing options when it comes to electric vehicles but they are still very expensive when compared to diesel vans and due to the lack of [electric] charge range, it would still be necessary to use diesel for long distance moves,” he says.
There are also van hire companies out there that advertise vehicles with lower CO2 emissions.
If you’re using a removal company, and you’re flexible on your dates, you could reduce emissions by combining your move with another customer.
“Some companies have regular journeys on certain routes and for others it would just depend on what other jobs they had going in a similar direction.”
It’s worth asking your removal company if that’s an option – they could end up making one trip instead of two.
The more you have to move, the more fuel you’ll use and the more CO2 will be produced so it’s a good idea to have a good declutter in advance.
Don’t forget to make sure as much as possible doesn’t end up at the tip, heading for landfill. You could donate your old furniture to charity, or those tins of paint to a community scheme, for example.
And if you do have to get rid of anything, do so responsibly and safely. Recycle Now has lots of information about what to do with what. There are also dedicated websites to recycling in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Round it all off with a low-impact lunch
You can’t do all that work on an empty stomach – but you can make sure your packed lunch is as sustainable as possible.
You could put your sandwiches in a beeswax wrap rather than wrapping them in foil, take a flask and remember to fill up your reusable water bottle. It won’t solve all the world’s problems, but it’s a good start.
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