On the Road Again: Guide For A Green Move

Image courtesy of Google Images

Image courtesy of Thumbs.Dreamstime.com

As perceptive readers no doubt noticed a while back, Greenista has been on hiatus.  The reason for the months (eek!) of silence was that I was planning and executing my move to the City by the Bay (aka San Francisco) from La La Land.  But now that I’ve completed the transplant successfully and am settled in my hometown, I’ll be bringing you loads of green articles from what I consider to be the capital of the green movement in America (don’t get in a tizzy, Portland or Seattle, we know you’re up there, too).

What I’ve learned during this transitional time?  Being conscious of the impact of our lifestyle (both personally and collectively) on the environment is paramount to addressing the health, waste and global warming issues we face today.  And, no, I’m not pointing the finger at SUV lovers or fast food gluttons – I’m looking directly into our bedrooms, or, more appropriately, our garages.

While packing my boxes, I painfully realized how much stuff I’ve accumulated and how little of it I actually use.  And it isn’t just the chochkis or the ratty high school sweatshirts – it’s pure excess in every lifestyle category.  From kitchen gadgets to workout gimmicks (hello, Bender Ball), I’m a pack rat, albeit a very clean and organized one.  This was magnified by the fact that I’ve temporarily moved into my childhood bedroom.  In a city house built in the 1930s, this translates to NO STORAGE SPACE.  Before my mother even let me back in the house, a “stuff quota” of sorts was imposed upon me.

I’ve seen how critical a green move can be in terms of clearing out the clutter pollution in our lives and making an honest assessment of what we really need to live comfortably in an eco-conscious fashion, as well as committing ourselves to tweaking (or in some cases, overhauling) our consumer habits and beliefs.   My purging was the result of my impending move and, though I can’t tell you what to keep, donate or rework, I can offer some helpful eco tips for packing up your life and moving in a green way.


Image courtesy of Discovery's PlanetGreen.com

Weed Through the Excess – Don’t even think of throwing everything haphazardly in a box and “going through it” after you move.  Bad idea.  As my mother always said, chances are if you haven’t used it or worn it in the past year, you never will.  Instead of making a beeline to the dumpster, divide your castoffs into categories.  Have some old novels that have been collecting dust? Sell them to a used bookstore or donate to your local library.  Determined never to wear that trendy top from last season again?  Out-of-style clothing can be reworked into new items (check out Threadbanger for cool ideas, like making a stylish skirt out of your old jeans) or donated to Goodwill.  And give our furry friends some love by donating gently used pillows and linens to your local animal shelter.  The options are endless if you take a little time to research where your old wares are wanted.

To make a buck, try to sell bigger items on Craigslist or eBay.  I put my cruiser bike up and it sold within a few days.   Or, if you are desperate and don’t care about the money, I gave away my IKEA desk and bookshelf on Freecycle.org.  As of  this writing the site is still in Beta mode, but it allows individuals in specific regions to “Offer” items up for grabs or make a “Wanted” request for items that they need.  From fish tanks to queen beds to jewelry boxes, the random items available on the site are certainly worth a look.

Image courtesy of UsedCardboardBoxes.com

Image courtesy of UsedCardboardBoxes.com

Packin’ It Up – Now that you’ve determined what items are coming with you, it’s time to find the right eco packing materials.  Big chain stores like Home Depot or Target sometimes give away boxes for free if you ask.  Or people who recently moved offer up their empty boxes on Craigslist if you are willing to go and pick them up.  You can also reuse the packaging from the items you own, if you still kept them.  I tend to keep boxes (like the one for my Wii) or plastic zip-ups (like the one for my bamboo throw blanket) that I can use for packing or storage.  Keep this is mind when you purchase an item next time.

For those of us unable to scrounge around for boxes, there are still great alternatives.  For my move, I purchased the “1 Bedroom/Office” set from UsedCardboardBoxes.com.    The boxes, which are “rescued” from companies looking to offload them, were clean and in good condition – definitely worth the cost.  The only qualms I had about the company was their lack of a recycling or “give back” program for when you no longer have a need for the boxes..  However, I commend their philosophy of moving with recycled, rather than made-from-virgin-wood, boxes.

If you want to completely steer clear of cardboard boxes, a wonderful option is RentAGreenBox.com, which lets you store your things in plastic bins that you receive one week before moving and must return a week after your move.

Image Courtesy of Go Green Moving.com

Image Courtesy of Go Green Moving.com

Hitting the Road – It doesn’t come as a big surprise that hybrid vans or biofuel trucks are not the norm when it comes to moving vehicles.  But there are some companies such as Northstar Moving Company and Green Movers USA that provide a listing of green fleets throughout the country.  While doing research, I also came across state-and-city-specific operations, such as MoveGreen (Santa Barbara-based) and Go Green Moving (mainly Los Angeles but also offers California-wide packages).  In the end, unfortunately, my restrictive budget just couldn’t afford a green moving van, but I was able to offset my journey by adding in the extra miles while renewing my annual TerraPass.

So set off on your green adventure confidently, knowing that you won’t be leaving behind a trail of unwanted [carbon] footprints!

For additional green moving articles and tips, check out Treehugger’s “Is It Better to Hire a Moving Truck Or Use Your Car?


  1. Great insights– useful for anyone to read even if they are not contemplating a move in the near future. Thanks!

  2. Renting reusable moving boxes is a great idea. If your in the San Francisco Bay area, call ZippGo to get reusable moving boxes made from recycled plastic delivered to your door. ZippGo will deliver to your door for less than dealing with complicated and wasteful cardboard boxes.

  3. Another idea that can help make your move greener is to move dressers and desks with the contents still inside of them, which many moving companies can do for you with the proper equipment. This helps reduce the need for so many boxes.

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