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how to move, the low-waste way


Photo by Erda Estremera

Author: Sarah Brown 

Bare Market blogger Sarah is back with the inside scoop on how to make moving house a better experience for both yourself and the environment.

So, I moved houses a little while ago, from one side of Toronto to the other. Having only arrived in Canada last year, I'm lucky I don't have a house full of possessions.

My partner and I chose a furnished apartment so that we didn’t have to worry about acquiring all new stuff. Though I somehow managed to accumulate a sizeable jar collection.

Moving can be a traumatic and stressful process, but it can help you evaluate what you own and determine what is useful and what is just unnecessary clutter.  So here are some tips on how to take proactive, healthy steps to moving in a low-waste fashion (even if you have a lot of stuff).

Step 1: Try to reduce ahead of time

Try to go through your things a few weeks ahead of your moving date and get rid of anything you don’t use or need. There is no point in carrying a whole bunch of crap that you haven’t used in forever over to your new space. Declutter. Downsize. Or better yet, Donate! The clothes you no longer wear, those Tupperware containers that have been collecting dust and those books that have been sitting on the shelf may serve greater purposes as they take on new life in someone else's home. Think recycle, donation box at your place of worship /school/ local shelter or a community trade group on Facebook. With that said, if you know an item has lived its best and full life and should be tossed, rip the bandaid and toss it.

The motto here is this: less stuff = less things to pack up, less boxes and tape to waste, less time needed. And you can start fresh in your new place with fewer possessions, feeling smug in your minimalism. Job well done!

Photo by Jilbert Ebrahimi

Step 2: Reuse

This step might require some forethought, but rather than purchasing all new cardboard moving boxes, try to find used boxes and materials that could be utilized to pack your things in. bare market often has a surplus of large boxes from product that was shipped to them. Get in touch! If not:

Chat to your local green grocer and see if they have any spare produce boxes. Perhaps check out your neighbours' recycling bins as you walk to the subway and see if there's anything useful there. Does your local grocer have cardboard boxes and milk crates that you could reuse? What about the local supermarket or bottle shop? You’d be surprised how willing and eager local shops are to upcycle a lot of their materials when you ask.

Think of this as guerilla waste-hunting. By reusing materials, you aren’t using additional resources (Money! Cardboard!) to move. I’ve used milk crates to stack my shoes while moving, and even reused a bunch of Wholefoods paper bags to cart my epic jar collection around. Think outside the box!

If hunting in bins on trash day for used boxes isn’t your thing, you can often find used moving boxes on Kijiji, LetGo, Facebook Marketplace or Bunz. You can pass these onto friends who might need them when you’re done!

And if  you’re in a position financially to be able to rent boxes and moving supplies, another option could be FrogBox - they’re a company that supply moving boxes and packing supplies free to your home, and when you’re done moving, they’ll take the boxes back for reuse!

Step 3: Use sustainable materials

I’m just spitballing here, but what if you tried wrapping your china in newspaper, napkins or towels that you already own? You would kill two packing birds with one stone! What about checking out your local thrift store for bed sheets that can be used to wrap things? After the move you could upcycle them or see if any friends could repurpose them.

Also, do you really need packing tape? Consider using all the bags you already own (think backpacks, tote bags, suitcases) to pack your stuff. Or simply quarter-fold your boxes to avoid tape. If you need to use packing tape, perhaps consider an eco-friendly version.

Step 4: Research & consider how you’re going to move things

Do your research and choose the most efficient mode of transportation. Maybe you can get away with using your own car (or someone else’s) to move your things. If you do need to rent a truck, make sure you choose one that is the right size. Packing the truck in the most efficient way possible will reduce the number of trips you need to make, and make you more fuel efficient overall. Atlas Van Lines is one example of a moving company with greener options – they’ve employed energy saving initiatives like using low-sulfur diesel fuel and recycled packing materials.

And once you’ve moved…

It can be tempting to just run out and purchase all the new things you think you need right away. Who hasn't found themselves at the IKEA checkout with dozens of votive candles and a throw pillow? But I implore you to take a moment, breathe and spend some time in your new space to determine what is actually necessary. And instead of purchasing something new, once again consider purchasing lightly used items.

Try Bunz and trade something! Or Kijiji. Or go old school and check out your local thrift store. I can guarantee you’ll find most things that you need this way, and by taking a moment before purchasing something new, you may find it wasn’t needed to begin with.  

Finally, a fresh start!

If you are in the process of moving house or about to do so, good luck. It isn’t easy. But just remember, it can be made less stressful and wasteful with a little proactive consideration, leaving you and the landfills slightly more liberated than before.

About the author: Originally from sunny Australia, Sarah came to Toronto to experience a Canadian winter (really!). She found Bare Market via Instagram and was instantly drawn to get involved. She loves farmers’ markets, sustainable fashion, all things package free and is way too excited about Toronto's compost bins! 

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