Moving Out & Thinking “Green”

Moving can be one of the most stressful events in our lives. However, it needn’t be so if you get yourself organized and plan ahead. Creating a project plan will definitely help keep the process running smoothly. And yes, I do mean a project plan just like one might use at the office. Hmmm, project plan? You may be wondering what it is. Let me explain. A project plan is a simple working list of tasks that need to be completed by a specific date to ensure that one stays on schedule and necessary tasks get done in the proper order. Of course, I’m sure that you’re making your list on recycled paper! Putting all the details down on paper lets you get them off your mind. You don’t have to keep running the list through your head, wondering if you’ve forgotten something. Seeing the steps on paper helps you manage the list, keeps you on schedule and will go a long way to ensuring a worry-free move. Adding the concept of “being green’ to your move is a MARvelous touch that may, in fact, reduce stress rather than add to it.

Several years back, I was coordinating the consolidation of an apartment in New York and a studio here in Westport. I knew that this would not be a simple one weekend move. It was also before “being green” was fashionable or even a popular topic. Somehow I seemed to be in tune with the “green philosophy” even then. Who knew? Now as I look back, I realize that some of my unconventional moving methods were right in step with this movement. I was being “green” and I didn’t even know it. Talk about being progressive and tuned in!

Moving is the best time to decide what items you wish to transport to your new home and those you wish to dispose of or to donate to friends and family. If you have items for which there are no takers, consider offering them to a charity or have a tag sale and donate the proceeds to a favorite charity. Many charities even accept cars. You get a nice tax deduction and someone who would otherwise not be able to afford one gets a car.

I love to be creative when it comes to getting the most out of things I no longer want or need. A good theme always helps set the tone for a successful sale. Sample themes might be, “Sell or Bust”, “Those Two Neighbors”, “Garage Sale Blowout”, “Moving, Must Sell Sale”, or my personal favorite, “We Can’t Stop Shopping”. These are just a few of the themes that I’ve come up with to create some buzz prior to a sale.  Think up names that will entice your customers with details about some of the items you plan to offer.  Engage your whole family to help and support the event. Fridays and Saturdays or both days are the most popular days to have a sale.  I highly recommend a preview sale. Invite friends over the night before to preview the moving merchandise. Charge a minimal $5.00 cover charge and offer a free glass of wine or refreshment. I did this, and it was such a big hit and I collected over $100.00 that I donated that year.  I sold some of the more expensive pieces that night.  Years later, we still talk about “those wonderful pieces” that my friends still love and enjoy in their homes. Often, I’m left to ponder, “why did I sell that?” Oh well.

Mar’s Top 4 Tips For a Green Move

  1. Give yourself more than enough time to coordinate your move. The earlier you start sorting through your house the easier the move will be. Remember, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”.
  2. Months before, begin to save bubble wrap, cardboard boxes, padded envelopes and other packing materials to help wrap up valuables. Other materials might include old towels, blankets, sheets or any fabric items that you were going to give or throw away. If they are still in good condition after the move, you can still donate them. Old pillows can be used to stabilize and protect lamps or other valuables that you may want to move.
  3. Talk to neighbors or nearby friends who might like your perishable food. Or, clean out your freezer and cupboards and donate the food to a local homeless shelter, senior housing or food bank. Be sure to call first to make sure what types of food items they will accept.
  4. Start collecting boxes in advance from local liquor and wine shops. These boxes are great because they are designed to hold bottles and can handle the weight of books and other heavy items. I also like to pack small boxes because they are easier to lift and maneuver. If they don’t have a ready supply, they will tell you when to come back or even hold a few for you. Good planning means collecting boxes well before you’re going to need them. This gives you the opportunity to pack a few boxes every day or so and start the process at your leisure.

Did you know that…?

  • Recycling one ton of cardboard saves over 9 cubic yards of landfill space.
  • The largest single source of waste paper collected for recycling is corrugated boxes.
  • Americans throw away enough wood and paper every year to heat five million homes for 200 years.
  • Staying attentive to what you throw away is a mindset that all of us must develop.

If your parents grew up during the depression then you probably got an earful about being wasteful. My grandparents and parents wasted nothing. They saved twine, paper, rubber bands, etc. This is a practice that we would do well to teach our children. Affluence doesn’t give one the license to be wasteful and thoughtless. It’s a matter of pride and taking some responsibility for the environment. What kind of world are we “dumping” on our children and their children? I’ll get off my soapbox now!

So, once you know that you’re moving, you must decide whether do-it-yourself moving is really a cheaper alternative to hiring professional movers. For do-it-yourselfers who are moving a long distance, consider the following additions to your calculation to determine if, in fact, doing it yourself will save you money and is worth the time: traveling costs which includes gas, meals, tolls, lodging, etc: the costs of renting a vehicle large enough to hold all of your belongings and unless you were planning on carrying furniture by yourself, the cost of hiring moving help; insurance must also be added to the calculation. A note of caution here: when hiring help, try to get people with experience. Nothing could be worse than watching your beautiful sofa or dining table getting dropped, chipped or scratched. Moving blankets to protect furniture are an additional expense.
Before you sign on the dotted line to contract a moving company, check with your local Department of Consumer Affairs and Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any complaints registered about the companies you are considering. If the move is within your state, request the same information from your state’s Transportation Department. Keep in mind that there are usually two sides to every story. A pattern of many complaints, however, is not a good sign.
If you do decide to do-it-yourself, organize a moving party. Keep plenty of water and cold drinks around to offer to your helpers. Offer them a lunch of sandwiches or pizza. It helps to have a big truck. This will cut down the number of trips so you can save on gas.

Have the following supplies handy two to three weeks prior to packing.

  • Boxes
  • Marking pens
  • Bubble wrap
  • Recycled newspapers
  • Recycled tissue paper
  • Tape and scissors
  • Tape measure

Some Moving Tips to Keep in Mind:

  • Use dish towels, old rags and other fabrics for wrapping breakable kitchen items.
  • Lower AC/heat as easy access to your home will be necessary and doors will be open for long periods of time.
  • Notify your telephone, electric, gas, water, and credit card companies at least one month prior to the move.
  • Forward necessary mail to your new address. Discontinue service on scheduled moving date.
  • Micromanage the project. Remember that what goes on the truck first, comes off last. Let them know what you want loaded first and loaded last.
  • Be kind to your movers. Offer them water and a chance to cool off or warm up throughout the process. Keep them happy and nothing will get broken”Ówell, one can only hope.
  • Don’t forget to have your tools ready when you start unloading. Your tool box should go with you in the car or be the last thing loaded on the truck.
  • Take your valuable documents and jewelry with you.

Don’t forget about your plants. Most are too sensitive to make a long journey in a hot, dark truck. Move these living items last with you, if possible, or give them to friends and start over in your new place.
Take your pet with you. Sounds obvious but some people might be inclined to put the pet in the back of the truck. Not a good idea, even on short moves. Do the last walk through and leave a special note welcoming the new owners. Give them a feeling of what this house meant to you and your family. Use recycled paper or stationary for this task.

The best “green” move is done with good planning and paying attending to waste and what you can do to avoid it. Consider all the options and remember that going “green” is all about moving the needle in the right direction”Óyou just need to be the one moving the needle. Our future generations depend on it.
And there you have it.