Moving house in just a few weeks? Excited? Yes – but you’re probably stressed as well. And rightly so! There’s a tonne of stuff to organise, from booking your removal company and packing your whole live in a series of boxes to redirecting your mailcancelling your TV licence and notifying your local council, your GP, your dentist and everyone on your Christmas Card list. So it’s hardly a surprise if you’ve not yet given the environment much thought.

If you thought your daily drive to work, your jumbo latte in that, yes, unrecyclable laminated cardboard container was you being less than eco-friendly, then you ain’t seen nothing yet. Your house move will probably be the most environmentally unfriendly thing you ever do.

But it doesn’t have to be this way – and the great thing is that an eco-friendly move is nearly always a cheaper move. Here are the four principles of eco-friendly removals:

  1. reducing carbon emissions
  2. minimising landfill volume
  3. limiting use of environmentally damaging packaging
  4. using eco-friendly cleaning products

Stick to these for a cheaper, slicker move that’s also better for the planet!

1. Cut Down Your Move’s Carbon Emissions

Carbon emissions are perhaps the most pressing issue this planet needs to address. And, with your upcoming house move, you can do your bit too.

Declutter Before You Move

The less you move with, the smaller the lorry you need. Which means less fossil fuel burned, and fewer nasty carbon emissions, getting your things from A to B.

Whether you’re donating it, recycling it or simply throwing it away – do it before the move. Junk is bad enough in itself, it doesn’t need to become junk with a big carbon footprint attached.

We’ve all tried decluttering. But have we ever made any real breakthroughs? If you need guidance, or merely a little bit of decluttering inspiration, read our buzzmove guide on how to declutter your house.

The added benefit of decluttering is that, of course, you can complete your move using a smaller van, which will save you money on the big day. Plus you won’t need as many of those darn packing boxes.

Choose an Eco-Friendly Mover

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 strictest exhaust emission standard for internal combustion engines issued to date.

The EEV standard mandates extreme low emissions of ‘particulate matter’, a mixture of extremely small solid and liquid particles suspended in the air that can pose a serious threat to people’s health and quality of life.

The government’s 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 should you do if you can’t find a removal company meeting the EEV standard? You can always look for trucks running on biodiesel, a much cleaner version of traditional diesel fuel.

The buzzmove Trees for Life Initiative

We help people move house, allowing moving companies to do more house removals. So, we soon realised that we were contributing towards carbon emissions.

But instead of just accepting this, we wanted to try and neutralise the carbon emissions released by indirectly by our activity. We wanted improve the eco-friendliness and perception of an industry that has typically neglected its carbon footprint. So we spent a summer researching the best and easiest way to neutralise carbons emissions.

It turned out the best way of doing that is by planting trees, and thus was born the buzzmove Trees for Life initiative. 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!

Our aim is to become carbon-neutral, based on the total moves generated by buzzmove.com. We bought a grove with Trees for Life, creating a collective space for the removal industry to offset carbon emissions.

If you want to check out who’s taken part so far, take a look at our carbon neutral landing page. And keep an eye out for this eco-badge on their site.

2. Reduce Your Move’s Landfill Footprint

This factor is perhaps less tangible than carbon emissions. The truth is that people throw away tonnes of stuff as they prepare to move – and it’s only the fact that this tends to be over a series of days or weeks that blinds people to the total volume.

Furniture, in particular, gets thrown out at record-high levels. The EPA reports that furniture accounts for some 9.8 million tons of landfill waste in the US annually.

We’re not advocating that you keep all your stuff. Besides, that would go against our first principle, that of reducing carbon emission by moving few things. Instead, what we have here are a few ways to dispose of things responsibly.

Donating your Household Clutter

We recommend selling items that are still in working condition. And there’s no need for a huge boot sale, you can easily sell individual items on websites such as Gumtree, eBay or Craigslist. This is a win-win-win. Firstly, you’re helping the environment, secondly you’re saving money on your move and thirdly you’re making some money back on stuff you don’t want.

It won’t be practical to sell everything though – there’s not a market for everything, and auction sites can involve a lot of hassle. So, for everything else it’s time to get donating. Here are few common household items that are excellent candidates.

  • Donate furniture to charity: Unfortunately, not all charity shops are able to accept bulky, heavy items, so be sure to check with your local charity shop in advance
  • Donate old clothes: Clothes are always in demand. And if your wardrobe is overflowing with old clothes or shoes you’re never going to don again, then why not make someone’s life a little easier by giving them to charity.
  • Donate electronics: Just like with furniture, small charity shops may not be able to take large electronics like washing machines, fridges, or televisions – so check first.
  • Donate books, toys, gadgets: Essentials aren’t the only thing people need in their lives. Anything that can give some entertainment, or bring a little bit of light to someone, is welcome.
  • Donate glassware and tableware: this category is particularly popular with 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.

Some removal companies and charities will even come right to your door to pick up larger donations. So, if you’ve got things that your local charities stores won’t take, then speak to these guys:

  • 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

Recycle Your Household Clutter

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 specialist centre instead of tossing them in the landfill bin.

  • Batteries: If you didn’t already know, batteries contain toxic substances like lead, sulfuric acid and cadmium, which can leak into, and contaminate, nearby waterways. Take your batteries to a local library, post office or supermarket, as these usually have battery recycling units.
  • Electronics: That old PC you have in the basement? It doesn’t have to wind up in the ground. 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 any number of other housing charities.
  • Appliances: Old TVs, microwaves and other appliances often contain lead and other harmful substances. Don’t bin it, use a service like Recycle Now, Electrical Safety or Wise Up to Waste, where it will be recycled no matter where you bought it from.
  • Paint Cans: If you have large quantities of open cans of paint, stain or varnish, try Freecycle or Freegle. Or organisations like Community RePaint, a UK-wide network of >75 schemes who use surplus paint for projects like decorating community centres and creating colourful playground murals. Otherwise, take your paint cans to your nearest household-waste recycling centre. Remember that paint cannot be placed in your household waste bin or poured down the drain.

3. Choose Eco-Friendly Packing Materials

Believe it or not, there’s a lot of speculation in the removals world about the greenest way to pack. In fact, there’s so much to talk about, we’ve even written an entire post just about packing!

You may think intuitively that the most eco-friendly approach is to gather used boxes from around town. And while this certainly exemplifies the good old adages “make do and mend” and “waste not, want not”, remember that cardboard boxes get less sturdy over time, lasting four moves at best. So this approach is perhaps not as sustainable as it first appears – as a society, we urgently need to reduce our reliance on paper and paper-based products because there simply aren’t enough trees to support it.

A greener alternative is to rent plastic crates (or “bins” as they are often, confusingly, called). These last up to 500 moves. Now, plastic obviously doesn’t biodegrade like cardboard does. But it can be recycled – so be sure to dispose of worn-out crates in the plastics section of your local tip. And congratulate yourself on having completed 500 moves!

Cardboard boxes (or plastic crates) are a vital component of any house move. But they’re not the only packing material you need. Now, the first thing that springs to mind may well be bubble wrap. And bubble wrap does, without doubt, perform an important role in protecting fragile or valuable objects from the knocks and bumps that occur all too easily during a house move.

Unfortunately, bubble wrap is an example of an unrecyclable plastic – so swaddling each and every one of your worldly goods in it, certainly won’t be the most eco-friendly thing you ever did. Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives at hand that will provide just as much protection.


Instead of bubble wrap or packing peanuts, use newspaper, egg cartons, blankets, and towels to pad fragile belongings. These things are in abundant supply in the average house. And, if you prefer to buy padding, opt for reusable pads, recyclable packing paper or 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/or bins.

4. Use Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products

When we’re packing to move house, it’s not just about getting all of our things over to our new home. It’s also about leaving our old home in a fit state for its new occupants.

Cleaning is naturally an indispensable part of the moving process. So far so good. But what we often underestimate is the effect it can have on the environment and our health.

If it says “Danger”, “Warning” or “Caution” on the tin, that tells you straight off the bat just how toxic the product can be. According to Organic Consumers, household cleaning supplies don’t just cause indoor air pollution, but can be poisonous if ingested, inhaled or touched.

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.

Organic Consumers

And if it’s bad for you within the four walls of your house, you’ve guessed it: it’s bad for the environment as well. So kill two birds with one stone (if you forgive the analogy), by opting for green cleaning products.

An easy starting point is to use all-natural products. Vinegar, baking soda and ammonia make for 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 prides itself on eco-friendly cleaning products.

 

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