Green Moving Guide

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When Greg Putnam and his wife were moving from their home of 10 years to a ranch house in Carpinteria, Calif., their main concern was cost -- not only to their bank accounts but to the environment as well. After researching local moving companies that specialize in earth-friendly moving practices, the Putnams settled on MoveGreen, a Santa Barbara-based eco-moving firm.

"We try to be as green as possible," explains Putnam. "We recycle just about everything and try to minimize our waste. We thought it was pretty cool that [MoveGreen] was concerned about the environment, too." And the Putnams were shocked to learn that the green moving company would cost 30 percent less than what other moving companies were quoting.

MoveGreen is one of a burgeoning number of environmentally conscious moving companies across the country. Known for reducing waste and carbon emissions, eco-movers are, in some cases, pricier than traditional moving companies, but friendlier to the Earth. Here's what you need to know if you're thinking about moving green.


What Is green moving?

Green moving is getting your things from one place to another while creating the least amount of waste and causing the smallest amount of environmental damage possible. That means taking specific actions to reduce trash and vehicle emissions created by moving. For those using moving companies, eco-moving firms like MoveGreen will haul your things while maintaining certain environmental standards.


Elements of a green move

Reducing your environmental impact during a move breaks down to three things, says Erik Assadourian, senior fellow at the WorldWatch Institute, an environmental think tank based in Washington D.C.: reducing the amount of stuff you're moving; the level of waste generated by the move; and the vehicle emissions released into the atmosphere to get your things from point A to B.

"The best way to reduce the impact of a move is simply to purge your stuff," explains Assadourian. "Get rid of those books that are just sitting on the shelf. The less you move, the less of an impact it makes."

Assadourian adds that relocaters can lessen their impact by being mindful of where they move. Those who move to larger homes that require more heating and air conditioning, and move farther away from their job and living amenities, will wind up causing more environmental damage over the course of their lives than those who stick to urban dwellings.


Reducing the waste generated by moving

Of course every move is going to generate a certain level of waste. Heather Perrilliat, co-founder of Heather Brookes Interior Organization, an eco-design, consultation and relocation firm based in Los Angeles, says that those moving can limit the waste their move produces by substituting durable storage containers for cardboard boxes, reusing items like newspapers and towels as packing materials and using bungee cords in place of tape to hold larger bins in place.

"Instead of having a moving company wrap larger pieces of furniture in plastic, try to use towels or sheets instead," recommends Perrilliat.

Assadourian adds that homeowners in the furniture market can limit their consumption by purchasing used goods ahead of time and having them delivered to the new pad. "That way when you arrive and see an empty room, you won't be compelled to run to Ikea to fill it," he says. "You'll already be prepared."


Eliminating vehicle emissions

Ideally, if you're moving green you would strap your things to a high-powered bike system and roll them, emission free, to their new destination. In lieu of that, those moving can limit air pollution by using hybrid vehicles to move smaller things (if that's an option) or by hiring moving companies that use biodiesel fuel and fuel-efficient transport. Here's where purging your things before the move will pay off, says Assadourian. Since vehicles lose their fuel efficiency as more weight piles on, relocaters who have a light move will use less fuel getting to their new destination than will packrats.


Getting help with green moving

If organizing a green move seems overwhelming, don't worry. Help is on the way. While some environmentally-conscious moving companies focus on providing plastic bins instead of cardboard boxes, companies like MoveGreen use biodiesel trucks, offer free recycling services, use reusable packing material and plant trees for every move.

"Not all movers are the same," explains Perrilliat. "Certain moving companies take it to a whole new level. We recommend that our clients use Rent A Green Box because absolutely everything is made out of recycled materials. It's really above and beyond."

By mining local landfills for frozen-food packaging, plastic bottles and dirty diapers, among other things, Rent A Green Box makes its own recycled packaging, creating zero waste in the process. To find a standout green moving company like MoveGreen or Rent A Green Box in your area, check out Green Movers USA for a list of local companies. If none are available, Assadourian says to ask area moving firms if they would be willing to adjust their practices for your move.

"You can talk to your moving company about things like using towels instead of plastic wrap, but they might ask you to waive your right to recourse if they damage something," he says. "The goal is to do what you can to minimize your impact, no matter how small."

Interested in more moving tips? AOL Real Estate has other great guides that might help:
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