Staying Sustainable While Moving Homes

Moving into your first home is a rollercoaster of emotions. You’re excited, no doubt, but also scatterbrained and overwhelmed. Throw a sad attempt to reduce waste during your move into the mix, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a full-blown meltdown on the horizon.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my own experience of going through the above situation (and yes, that meltdown did happen…twice), it’s that preparation is key. You may be thinking, well duh Elena, it’s the key to almost anything. And you’re totally right. The issue lies in doing it for the very first time.

I’ve moved before, of course, once to my university dorm room, and then once to the townhouse I would spend the rest of my student life living in. But all those moves were long before I woke up to the scary realization that the world as we know it isn’t going to be around for much longer with the way I, and most of the developed world, am treating it. Plastic, single-use items didn’t bother me as much back then.

It goes beyond the cardboard packing boxes – I can at least convince myself that we’ll just recycle them after. It’s all the little things I never thought of until they happened. So here are a few of my reflections from our (not so) sustainable moving experience. I will definitely refer back to this when we move again, and hopefully you can keep them in mind for your next home too.

Staying Sustainable While Moving Homes | The Curious Button

What are you cleaning with?

You will definitely want to clean every nook and cranny of your new home before moving in, so that it’s fresh for you to step in and live in. J’s mom generously bought us what was probably a year’s worth of cleaning supplies, and even cleaned our kitchen for us when the cleaners we had booked didn’t arrive (I scored not only a great future husband, but also an awesome future MIL). Half of those supplies, though, I’ve never even used before. Even without considering the harsh and harmful toxins that can be found in cleaning supplies, I can only really think of 4, maybe 5, different cleaning products I would need on a regular basis – yet we somehow ended up with about double that. That’s not even including all of our cleaning supplies from our old home. Yikes, so much for a minimal and fresh start…

This could’ve been easily prevented with some prior planning. Before sustainably moving, make sure you identify exactly what cleaning supplies you already have, if you will need to buy any, and make sure anyone helping you out on moving day knows and has access to those products.

What are you eating?

An obvious question, but one that is easily overlooked. I find that when I’m busy, I forget to eat until it’s late at night and I don’t want to go to bed hungry. But it’s important to plan for what you’re going to be eating for the first few days or so at your new home, especially if you won’t get the chance to get groceries right away. Take out or ordering in some pizza is fine every once in a while, yet thanks to my lack of foresight, we were eating out for days. I felt terrible for all the styrofoam and plastic cutlery this resulted in, as well as my body literally not feeling too great thanks to all the commercial junk I ate.

So have a plan. If I were to do it again, I probably would have cooked up a storm before moving out and had a bunch of leftover, ready to eat, healthy meals in the fridge to carry us over for at least a few days.

Staying Sustainable While Moving Homes | The Curious Button

How are you sorting your waste?

Ideally you would really try to minimize any waste during your sustainable moving experience, but that’s easier said than done. As a result of the deep cleaning and the packing and unpacking happening, there will be cardboard and plastic bags and packaging and possibly some styrofoam (especially if you’re buying new pieces of furniture).

But what’s even worse than having all of this garbage in the first place is being so overwhelmed by it that you don’t properly sort your waste the best you can. Something as simple as letting everyone know that you’ve designated 1) a certain box for cardboard and paper only, 2) another bag or box for plastic to be recycled, 3) a compost bin for food waste, and 4) a bag for only what truly cannot be recycled or composted, can make the world of a difference.

We bought a new dining set recently, and trust me, having a plan makes sorting through literally HEAPS of waste that much easier.

When is your waste pickup?

Finally, it’s probably a good idea to talk to a neighbour or someone who knows when waste pickup is. That way, you won’t end up missing garbage day and having a mountain of junk in your garage for a whole week longer. Which we may or may not have done. Ahem.


So I hope reading this has helped you with planning your own sustainable moving experience! If you’ve also moved recently, let me know – do you have any other tips to add? I’d love to hear them for next time 🙂

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Thanks for sharing this! It’s easy to overlook moving as an opportunity to be responsible and sustainable.
    I had two big moves in the last 2.5 years- one from SoCal to Norcal, and then NorCal to the east coast! Planning ahead is definitely key- and we had used a moving company since we relocated both times for my husband’s job. Moving companies will not move certain items (charcoal, lighter fluid, grass seed, aerosol cans, etc.) so I recommend planning ahead for those things- there are places that will properly dispose of them, but their schedule is not as flexible as yours come moving time (our local facility was only open two days a week).
    We gave our boxes to another friend who was moving and while we recycled most of the packing paper, I kept a box of it to use as packaging for items I ship for my business!

    • Thanks for reading, Emily! We didn’t use a moving company as we were moving only about 15 minutes away from where we were living before, but I’m sure that only adds more pre-planning to the move! Glad to hear that you also looked for ways to be more responsible during and after moving 🙂