* This article was originally published on 29th August 2017 but has now been updated on 10th April 2018 with tons more info and top tips
How being green makes your move a lot cheaper, faster and easier…
Your move date is rapidly approaching and there’s still a lot to do. So why add another thing to the list like being eco-friendly? Because your house removal can have a pretty hefty impact on the environment as it is.
If that’s something that matters to you, then you’ll want to use some of the following simple tips to reduce your carbon footprint when you move home. We’ve scoured the internet to bring the best tips to you – so you don’t have to.
3 Ways to Make Your Move More Green
Austin Moving Forward’s blog conveys that we should educate ourselves in what we can do to reduce the carbon footprint in our daily lives. But at the same time, we should try to be as environmentally conscious when we move too.
Don’t ditch it—donate it
Tossing out all your castoffs really junks up our landfills. Furniture, in particular, gets thrown out at record-high levels—the EPA reports it makes up some 9.8 million tons of landfill waste in the US alone. So, instead of binning your unwanted belongings, how about donating them to a local shelter or charity?
The added benefit? You’ll need fewer boxes when you move – and that will likely bring down the cost. And when you use fewer boxes that’s also less waste. Plus, if you or your house removal company ends up needing a smaller van because you have less junk, that means your move will use less petrol – better for your bank balance AND the environment.
Many removal companies and charities will even come right to your door to pick up larger donations—that’s one thing you can cross off your to-do list! Have a look at the list below of some great UK-based charities and removal companies to donate to.
Furniture Donation Network – You donate. We collect. You help charity”
Emmaus – “Working to end homelessness.”
Bishops Move work closely with Cancer Research and have created a ‘Declutter and Donate‘ scheme in which they collect unwanted items from you and donate them direct to Cancer Research UK.
Fantastic Removals works closely with the Red Cross Charity and offer an informative list of what charities usually accept and what you can’t donate.
Clothes are always in demand, and if your wardrobe is overflowing with old clothes or shoes you will never ever put on again, you can make someone’s life a little easier if you decide to give clothes to charity.
- Donate furniture to charity.
Unfortunately, not all charity shops have the capacity to accept such bulky, heavy items. Make sure you call your local charity shop and ask if they will be able to rid of something you do not want to have in your house.
Just like with furniture, small charity shops will not be able to take large electronics like washing machines, fridges, or televisions.
- Donate books, toys, gadgets.
Essentials aren’t the only thing people need in their lives. Anything that can give some entertainment is welcome. In the case of books, make sure you pack them well.
- Donate glassware and tableware.
Charity shops are a great place to send your unwanted items – especially one such as the British Red Cross, British Heart Foundation and Oxfam. Just have a look down your high street for more local options and ask them what they’ll take.
Use “green” cleaning products
Cleaning is a large part of the moving process, but we often underestimate the effect it can have on the environment and on our health. If it says: “Danger”, “Warning” or “Caution” that tells you straight off the bat how toxic the product can be. According to Organic Consumers, household cleaning supplies can cause indoor air pollution, are poisonous if ingested, and can be harmful if inhaled or touched.
But this isn’t even the serious part.
“Cleaning ingredients vary in the type of health hazard they pose. Some cause acute, or immediate, hazards such as skin or respiratory irritation, watery eyes, or chemical burns, while others are associated with chronic, or long-term, effects such as cancer…
Possible health effects include decreased sperm counts, increased rates of male birth defects such as cryptorchidism (undescended testicles) and hypospadias (where the urethra is on the underside of the penis), and increased rates of some kinds of cancers. The alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs) used in some detergents and cleaners have been shown to mimic the hormone estrogen; one APE, p-nonylphenol, has caused estrogen-sensitive breast cancer cells to multiply in a test tube study.”
Need another excuse to use green cleaning products? Nontoxic, earth-friendly cleaning supplies are not only better for preserving the precious environment but are also kinder to your skin and health. So, what’s the alternative?
Try using all-natural products. Vinegar, baking soda, and ammonia make low-impact replacements for a number of household cleaning agents such as scouring powder, all-purpose cleaners, and kitchen cleaners. Or look for an environmentally conscious brand that provides green cleaning products.
How to Make Your Next Move a Green Move
US-based website Moving offers some easy steps that will work just as well for us in the UK.
Where do you start?
Get rid of the clutter
Decluttering is great because the benefits are twofold.
First, you can make a little cash from your unneeded possessions via a car boot sale or online. And second, as mentioned previously, the less you move, the lower your costs will be. Movers charge you largely based on the weight or size of your possessions. Get rid of your junk before you move, and your costs will be lower. This is the best time to declutter.
Because you never really know how many useless items you have accumulated over the years until you start to pack it all and move it. Now it’s time to be brutal. Ditch the clothes that you haven’t worn in years. Ditto the CD’s you’re never going to listen to.
Or those end tables you never really liked.
We keep so many things like electronics, small appliances and linens that we haven’t used for years. But if we haven’t used them for years, we certainly won’t be using them in our new home. When going through your things simply asking yourself one thing:
Do I actually use this frequently? If not… Chuck ’em!
Still finding it hard? We get it…
We’ve all tried decluttering. But have we ever really done it well and made a noticeable difference? If you need guidance, read our informative article that highlights what NOT to do when decluttering.
Use the right kind of boxes for your house removal
There’s a lot of speculation on what’s the most green thing in regards to boxes when moving. If you’re packing yourself, you may think the right thing to do is get used boxes from around town. While it would be a green thing to do, used boxes are less sturdy and more likely to split while being carried.
Cardboard boxes generally last four moves at best. Which is why the greener alternative is renting plastic crates. Plastic bins last up to 500 moves. But the problem with plastic in the long run is it doesn’t biodegrade. What does this mean and why is bad? Plastic is made to last forever.
According to DiGregorio, Barry E. Biobased Performance Bioplastic: Mirel, Chemistry & Biology 2009 “Disposed plastic materials can remain in the environment for up to 2,000 years and longer.”
According to Plastic Pollution Coalition:
Plastic affects human health. Toxic chemicals leach out of plastic and are found in the blood and tissue of nearly all of us. Exposure to them is linked to cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption and other ailments.
Two broad classes of plastic-related chemicals are of critical concern for human health—bisphenol-A or BPA, and additives used in the synthesis of plastics, which are known as phthalates. Source: “Perils of Plastics: Risks to Human Health and the Environment,” Arizona State University Biodesign Institute 18 March 2010
Plastic spoils our groundwater. There are thousands of landfills in the United States. Buried beneath each one of them, toxic chemicals from plastics drain out and seep into groundwater, flowing downstream into lakes and rivers.
There are long-term risks of contamination of soils and groundwater by some additives and breakdown by-products in plastics, which can become persistent organic pollutants. Source: Hopewell, Jefferson; Dvorak, Robert; Kosior, Edward. “Plastics Recycling: Challenges and Opportunities,”Biological Sciences 14 June 2009
Plastic attracts other pollutants. Chemicals in plastic which give them their rigidity or flexibility (flame retardants, bisphenols, phthalates and other harmful chemicals) are oily poisons that repel water and stick to petroleum-based objects like plastic debris. So, the toxic chemicals that leach out of plastics can accumulate on other plastics. This is a serious concern with increasing amounts of plastic debris accumulating in the world’s oceans.
Fish, exposed to a mixture of polyethylene with chemical pollutants absorbed from the marine environment, bioaccumulate these chemical pollutants and suffer liver toxicity and pathology. Source: Rochman, Chelsea “Ingested Plastic Transfers Hazardous Chemicals to Fish and Induces Hepatic Stress,” Scientific Reports 2013
Plastic threatens wildlife. Wildlife becomes entangled in plastic, they eat it or mistake it for food and feed it to their young, and it is found littered in even extremely remote areas of the Earth. In our oceans alone, plastic debris outweighs zooplankton by a ratio of 36-to-1.
Over 260 species, including invertebrates, turtles, fish, seabirds and mammals, have been reported to ingest or become entangled in plastic debris, resulting in impaired movement and feeding, reduced reproductive output, lacerations, ulcers and death. Source: Thompson, Richard C.; Moore, Charles J.; vom Saal, Frederick S.; Swan, Shanna H. “Plastics, the Environment and Human Health: Current Consensus and Future Trends,”Biological Sciences 14 June 2009
Plastic piles up in the environment. Americans discard more than 30 million tons of plastic a year. Only 8 percent gets recycled. The rest ends up in landfills, is burned or becomes litter.
More than 5 trillion plastic pieces weighing over 250,000 tons afloat at sea. Source: Eriksen, Marcus; Lebreton, Laurent C. M.; Carson, Henry S.; Thiel, Martin; Moore, Charles J.; Borerro, Jose C.; Galgani, Francois; Ryan, Peter G.; Reisser, Julia. “Plastic Pollution in the World’s Oceans,” PLoS One 10 Dec. 2014
Plastic poisons our food chain. Even plankton, the tiniest creatures in our oceans, are eating micro-plastics and absorbing their hazardous chemicals. The tiny, broken down pieces of plastic are displacing the algae needed to sustain larger sea life who feed on them.
Contaminated plastics when ingested by marine species present a credible route by which the POPs can enter the marine food web. Source: Andrady, Anthony L. “Microplastics in the Marine Environment,” Marine Pollution Bulletin 2011
Plastic costs billions to abate. Everything suffers: tourism, recreation, business, the health of humans, animals, fish and birds—because of plastic pollution. The financial damage continuously being inflicted is inestimable.
The overall natural capital cost of plastic use in the consumer goods sector each year is US$75 billion. Source: United Nations Environment Programme “Plastic Waste Causes Financial Damage of US$13 Billion to Marine
Use greener transportation
Investigate the type of vehicles your house removal company offers, and check if the vehicles are at an EEV standard. EEV stands for ‘Enhanced Environmentally friendly Vehicles.’ They have the most severe exhaust emission standard for internal combustion engines issued to date. The EEV standard mandates extreme low emissions of ‘particulate matter’, which form a serious threat to the health and quality of life of people.
What is particulate matter (PM)?
Particulate matter or particle pollution is the generic term for a mixture of extremely small solid and liquid particles suspended in the air. These particulates can occur naturally (soil dust, pollens, moulds, sea spray, etc.), or originate from human activities (road dust, soot, smoke, fly ashes, etc.).
How much is PM affecting us today?
Government Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs confirm that 29,000 people die prematurely each year in the UK because of particle pollution, causing £15,000,000,000 in health costs. What’s more worrying is that The Guardian confirmed that over 1,000 diesel cars were caught last year without pollution filter.
What should you do if the removal companies van does not meet the EEV standard? More and more companies are using trucks that run on biodiesel. Biodiesel is much better because it runs cleaner than traditional diesel fuel.
Eco-Friendly Moving Tips
US-based website Unpakt claims that it’s not the massive tasks, but actually a few small changes to your next move that could have the biggest beneficial impact on the environment.
Recycling isn’t just about plastic bottles and cardboard boxes. A number of household goods can be recycled as well—everything from batteries to old electronics. You obviously can’t throw these in the recycling, but you can take them to a special centre instead of tossing them in the landfill bin.
Moving.com also wrote about the most common items and how you can recycle them. Even though this is another US site, we’ve taken their tips and adapted them for U.K. movers:
- Batteries: If you didn’t already know, batteries contain toxic substances like lead, sulfuric acid, and cadmium, which can leak into nearby waterways. Take these to a local library, post office or supermarket, which usually have a recycling centre for batteries.
- Electronics: That old PC you have in the basement? It doesn’t have to wind up in the bin. Electronics and cords can be recycled at local household waste recycling centres. You can also take them to Shelter, Crisis, House Injustice, Habitat for Humanity or other housing charities—places that often accept donations for these kinds of goods.
- Appliances: Old TVs, microwaves, and other appliances often contain lead and other harmful substances “Don’t bin it, bring it” to Recycle Now, electrical safety or Wise Up to Waste to name a few, where it will be recycled no matter where you bought it from.
- Paint Cans: If you have some large quantities of open cans of paint, stain, and varnish try Freecycle or Freegle. These websites will help to put you in touch with other people in your local area who would like to use your leftovers. Or take your paint cans to your nearest household waste recycling centre – your local council can let you know where this is. Here, plastic paint cans are disposed of responsibly and metal paint cans are sent for recycling.
There are also organisations who would love to re-use your paint. Community RePaint is a UK wide network of over 75 schemes who collect surplus and leftover paint and then make it available to individuals and families in social need and every form of community group and charity, so that they are able to re-use household paints for projects such as decorating community centres and creating colourful playground murals.
If your paint is very old and unsuitable for re-use, or you are not able to find someone locally who can use it, you will need to make sure your paint is hardened before you dispose of it. Please remember that paint cannot be placed in your household waste bin and must not be poured down the drain where it can cause damage and blockages.
If you have a small amount of paint left, brush it on to scrap paper or cardboard and leave it to dry. Once dry, the paper or card can be placed in your household bin. If there is a larger amount of paint in the can (more than a few centimetres deep), add some dry soil, sand or sawdust to the can and leave to harden.
Use Environmentally Friendly Packing Materials
You may not know this, but your home is already full of packing materials. Instead of bubble wrap or packing peanuts, use newspaper, egg cartons, blankets, and towels to pad fragile belongings. If you prefer to buy padding, opt for reusable pads, recyclable packing paper, and specially marked biodegradable bubble wrap and packing peanuts.
In the event you don’t have the time to find or order these, a green house removal company should be able to provide you with reusable, eco-friendly packing materials as well as boxes and bins.
If you follow these great tips you’ll have less belongings and use fewer packing materials. The house removal petrol mileage will reduce, saving you money whilst reducing your carbon footprint. So, save the earth and save money too.
P.S. If you have any other tips or comments on what you’ve read please comment below. Any help to go green is much appreciated.
CHOOSE A CARBON NEUTRAL REMOVAL COMPANY
Now, we didn’t score the internet for this one. It all began in our backyard.
buzzmove helps removal companies generate more moving enquiries, while saving home movers time and money. Now, the reality is: moving home is inevitable and the C02 released has a negative impact on the environment.
But instead of just accepting this, we want to try and neutralise the carbon emissions released. We want to help improve the eco-friendliness of an industry that is typically neglected in terms of its carbon footprint. We knew we wanted to do something about this, so we spent a while researching the best and easiest way to neutralise these emissions.
It turned out the best way of doing that is by planting trees. A tree can absorb up to around 22kg of carbon dioxide per year – and as much as 907 kilos by the time it reaches 40 years of age.
We aim to become carbon neutral, based on the total moves our companies generate on our site. To achieve this, our goal is to plant 2,160 trees in 2018. We bought a grove with Trees for Life so there could be a collective space for the removal industry to donate to. This is also something that the removals can easily commit to.
Our project is sustainable. Before now, the removal industry wasn’t doing much do reduce their C02 emissions. We’ve seen an enthusiastic response so far from the removal companies. We’ve offset nearly 25 tonnes of C02. (That’s nearly 118 double-decker buses!) If you want to check out who’s taken part so far, we’ve featured them on our carbon neutral landing page.
Also look out for this eco-badge on their site.