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Moving to a new place soon? Do it the eco-friendly way.

There are plenty of ways to make less of an impact on the environment when you’re moving yourself and all of your belongings miles away.

© seventyfour / stock.adobe.com

Northern Virginia tends to be a transient place for thousands of workers each year. Apartment leases expire, the moving truck backs in and a family can be off to a new place in no time. But whether you’re coming or going, or just moving around within NoVA, moving is always stressful.

On top of it all, the process of moving can have a not-so-great impact on the environment (boxes get thrown out, the amount of gas moving trucks require, etc.).

It might not be a priority compared to the task of packing everything you own, but the eco-friendly alternatives can leave you in better shape in the long run by saving you time, space and money (and maybe earning some too!).

Here are some tips that can keep your moving process smooth and environmentally friendly.

Time to let go

Start by going through your items Marie Kondo-style. Try to see your belongings from a new perspective and arrange them into what you need and want to keep, versus what you never use.

Gift: There is quite a bit of fun involved with going through all of your items, seeing what you no longer need and handing it over to a friend who will appreciate it. Take those items and give them over to people who you think will take good care of them, and you’ll be doing the environment a favor by keeping items that are still in great condition out of the landfill. Virginia alone contributed 13,551,944.22 tons of waste into landfills in 2017. Don’t throw it away—give it away (without wrapping paper either!).

Sell: Most of the items you don’t want to take with you most likely have value to someone else, albeit not the value you paid for them, but still, yard sales are worth considering before your move. Not only will locals stop by to pick up your unwanted furniture and other items, you’ll also fill a fanny pack with cash for variable expenses bound to come up in the future. (With a little extra time and planning, you could average $500 to $1,000 as a profit). Also, consider consigning larger items if you feel that would be the most convenient option to get rid of old furniture or collectible items.

Donate: Another great option it to take unwanted items to your local donation centers. There are a few items that they won’t take (no large appliances, cribs or personal items) but otherwise, your loss is their gain, and this time it has two beneficial causes: it’s eco-friendly by letting it be reused, and the profits that the donation center makes can go to great causes. Here are a few places to consider.

Pack it up

When you think of all of the packaging that goes along with moving, it could fill a dumpster in and of itself. Plastic wrap, bubble wrap, cardboard, the list goes on. Here are a few packaging tips and services to keep in mind.

Use what you have and start packing things with towels, blankets and newspaper. Not only is it environmentally-friendly by not contributing more plastic waste through bubble wrap and Styrofoam, it is also safe for your fragile products by offering them a cushion if they get rattled around in the moving vehicle, and you’re taking the towels along anyway.

Swap your cardboard boxes for plastic bins. Unlike cardboard boxes that often get torn open and only recycled 25% of the time, plastic bins can be reused for storage purposes and other moving families, not to mention they’re more durable and (almost) weatherproof.

In NoVA, several moving companies offer the eco-friendly option of renting boxes that are sturdy and packable, then allow you to return them when you’re all moved in at your new location. Lend a Box, a company devoted to eco-friendly moving and rentable equipment  has locations in Chantilly, Arlington and Reston; Bungo Box has a location in Vienna (and several more around the country); and The Gentle Giant Moving Company offers biodegradable packing products, such as foam peanuts and bubble wrap if you’re still in the market for them.

Lastly, use bags, suitcases and bins that you already have to pack. Suitcases, duffel bags and backpacks can carry clothing, soft items and miscellaneous things, which can lessen the amount of storage bins needed, and save space in the moving vehicle.

And they’re off!

Despite the amount of waste that can be generated from a move, one of the largest impacts on the environment is the method of travel and the amount of time spent on the roads. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, transportation (including large freight vehicles, cars and trucks) accounts for roughly 29% of total U.S. greenhouse emissions. That’s why there are a few things to consider when moving all of your belongings.

Make sure you’re being conscious in terms of storage needs, and try to minimize the amount of vehicles or trips used to transport your items. By using more fuel-efficient cars rather than larger trucks, greenhouse gas emissions can be lessened and therefore have less of an environmental impact.

Ask your moving company if they have rentable vehicles that use biodiesel fuel. Although it might not be as common of a feature, if you must use a large moving van or truck for your relocation, biodiesel is safer and cleaner than petroleum diesel.

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