Packing and moving into a new house can be a Herculean task, and during this chaotic process – right from wrapping up belongings safely and securely into boxes, to unpacking and setting up the new home – it is easy to forget that all those rolls of bubble wrap, sheets of plastic clingfilm, piles of cardboard cartons, rolls of cellotape and more will likely end up in a huge pile of garbage. Can we avoid this trash trap?
There is a simple tried-and-tested solution – just plan ahead. In this article, we share some eco-friendly tips for moving houses that will help you ensure that your next move is a “green” one!
1. Level Up the Eco Quotient of Your New Home
Is your next home designed or at least set up in a sustainable way? If you are building your dream home, you have an opportunity to incorporate eco ideas at a structural level – from counter tops to cabinets, there are an increasing number of sustainable choices out there.
If you’re moving into a ready flat, keep a lookout for fittings and fixtures that can drive up your energy and water usage during your house-hunt. Does the apartment have fans and not only air conditioning? (That’s a plus). Low-flow taps? (Another plus). Wall-to-wall glass on a west-facing room (Oops!).
Once the home decision is done, be mindful of the decor and product choices you make – opt for high energy efficiency when choosing appliances (at least 3 ticks!), and long-lasting materials when picking accents. And honestly, why buy new when old can be your gold? If what you have isn’t enough, shop preloved.
Here’s a list of places to pick up secondhand furniture at great rates in Singapore.
2. Declutter Your House by Donating, Selling and Gifting
Once you’ve decided on your new home and its design, it’s time to declutter your current space in preparation for the big move.
You may be tempted to just dump everything into a box, take it along and procrastinate the sifting process, but sorting at the new home is not a very eco-friendly option! Not only will you spend more time and energy to pack, but you’ll also waste more packing materials and more trips to transport them. So, why not sort your stuff out right away – gift your friends and neighbours mint-condition things that you won’t need anymore, sell off gently used furniture and electronics online or even hold a garage sale and of course, the option to donate is always available. (Make sure everything is in usable condition!)
If your move is long-distance and involves a long travel time, look for suitable options to donate perishable food items instead of putting them in the trash! There are quite a few options available to reduce food wastage by simply giving it to those who need it – stock fruits or vegetables at a nearby community fridge and/or list the foods on apps like OLIO.
3. Utilise Reusable Storage Containers
Instead of buying new containers for the move, repurpose all the large containers that you have at home like buckets, big plastic drums or even large cooking utensils as temporary ‘storage boxes’ to pack your smaller items into. Likewise, use suitcases to pack in clothes and household upholstery items. If you don’t have enough of these large storage containers, consider asking around and borrowing these from friends.
If you need to move homes often, consider investing in trunks for your glassware and try to save original boxes whenever possible – all you have to do is wrap these delicate items in paper and put them in their own boxes and then in the trunk – the safest way to move glassware for sure! When you are done moving, use the trunk as a coffee table or use it to create extra seating, until the next move.
4. Opt for Eco-Friendly Packaging Materials
Once you’re done using all the available large containers, trunks and suitcases, you will, in all likelihood, still need more boxes and/or packaging materials. Don’t feel guilty! Instead, be resourceful and sustainable in the choices you make.
Cardboard boxes: Avoid using brand new boxes that the packers and movers usually provide; aim to find and reuse old ones – either safely stored from your last move or your last online grocery order! You can also borrow from a friend who has recently moved. They will also be grateful that you’re reducing their post-move trash! Another option is to head over to the local grocery store and request them to lend you a few cartons.
Once you have unpacked at your new home, the cartons that are sturdy and still in usable condition can be stored flat (if you have storage space) or offered to someone else in the community who may need them. List them on the local Facebook pages or on a sharing app. If you want, you can also ask the moving company if they will take the boxes back. You just might get an affirmative reply!
Bubble wrap serves a dual purpose for most – it protects delicate items during a move and gives children and adults alike pure joy in popping them! On the not-so-bright side, it is plastic.
If you must use bubble wraps for delicate items, save them so that they can be used again. Likewise, before you go to a store and buy a new roll – check if someone has old rolls or even large pieces lying around that you can use.
The two easily available alternatives to bubble wrap are paper (newspaper, old office paper and magazines) and fabric (bedsheets, towels and old clothes).
If you do end up with a fair bit of used bubble wrap – remember, it can be recycled in Singapore, so drop off the clean sheets in the recycle bin.
Another commonly used material is plastic cling film. These days, many packers are choosing to use thick cloth sheets and gunny bags for larger goods like furniture and household appliances instead of sheets of cling wrap.
When things need to be securely shut, good ol’ cellotape will do the job. Except, it is plastic and most definitely not reusable. One can opt to use strings to secure cases; coconut husk string works very well and also makes sturdy handles to lift cartons.
Not sure which trash can be recycled? Here is a handy list of common household items that can and cannot be recycled in Singapore.
5. Check the Moving Company’s Green Credentials
Transportation has a carbon footprint that you cannot avoid – but you can minimise it. For long-distance moves – e.g. if you’re relocating from another country to Singapore – minimise emissions by using rail and sea-freight over air.
Last but not least, choose a mover and packer company that shares your ideology of sustainability. Often companies do have eco-friendly alternatives available but end up using plastic and disposable variants due to their customers’ demands. It is a good idea to meet in advance with your moving company and explain to them that you would like as minimum wastage as possible. In Singapore, Shalom Movers, offer eco-friendly moving services – by reusing cardboard boxes as well as collecting newspaper, clothes and plastics for recycling and – in the process enabling a ‘clutter free’ move.
Choose To Move Sustainably
We hope these tips will help you plan your next relocation in a more eco-friendly way. Our best efforts may still rack up some carbon footprint, but to quote Anne-Marie Bonneau, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly” So, let’s get moving!
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