Packing for a Zero Waste Move

This week, I'm moving! To a new location in the same city. My new place will be slightly larger than my old one, and I'm looking forward to the change. Over the past week, I've been working on packing up my belongings (and have been devoutly thankful I don't own more than I do. Which still feels like too much, by the way #minimalistproblems).

I knew I wanted to keep my move zero waste, so I thought through a few packing options in advance. Should I use recycled cardboard boxes? That's not a bad solution, but still one that requires tape to pack them up. Should I use reusable containers I can find or borrow, like milk crates? I've hired movers to help transfer my things, and I think they would hate me if I tried to use open milk crates. Should I move everything myself to circumvent the mover-hatred brought on by said milk crates? Nooooo way.

Instead, I recalled reading about a service that drops off and picks up reusable moving bins for a fee, and I did a little research to find a provider in my area. I settled on Chicago Greenbox, whose bins I've packed up in the photograph above. For a flat fee that varies based on the number of bins you'll need, they will both deliver and cart away their cleaned, emptied plastic bins. I opted to tie mine with string instead of plastic zip ties, keeping the whole system zero waste. As an added bonus, not having to scrounge up cardboard boxes from various sources has made this one of the easier moves I've ever made.

Maybe one of the cardboard box/reusable crate options will work well for you - but if not, consider taking a look at a service offering reusable moving supplies. And, once you've solved the problem of boxes, here are a few other ideas for keeping your move sane and sustainable:

Declutter beforehand.

Moving things you don't use/don't need/don't want is a waste of time and space; with advance planning you can get rid of excess things before you move, shaving a little bit of the headache from your move. I've shared a few tips about how to declutter sustainably, here.

Pack carefully. 

If you're like me, when you open your pantry and prepare to box everything up you might be surprised at just how many glass jars you own. It's tempting to say, "Oh, they'll be fine," and start boxing them up carelessly. But, broken jars become recycling and are no longer useful, of course. I've tried to train myself to take extra care with packing, even when I feel rushed. This goes for other possessions, too - taking care that they get moved well means they'll last longer and wear better.

Consider secondhand. 

If you need to purchase any furniture for your new place, try giving new life to old pieces found on Craigslist, in a local secondhand shop, or in a family member's basement.  Repurposing existing pieces is generally more environmentally friendly than buying something new; reupholstering chairs, cleaning carpets, painting dressers, and otherwise sprucing old things up can help them seamlessly match your style. I was lucky to snag an old chair a friend was offering up, and I'm looking forward to swapping out the slipcover and loving it in my new living room.

Chicago Greenbox offered me a discount on their service, but all opinions in this post are my own. To find a similar service in your area, try searching "reusable moving boxes (insert your city here!)."