Moving House, The Green Way

Reader Contribution by Anna Twitto
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We’re not quite at the packing stage yet, but I’m already mentally gearing myself up to a few weeks of chaos that are going to ensue while I get the whole house into cardboard boxes, and then out again at the new place. I have been married for ten years, and this is going to be our fifth move, so by now I consider myself a packing and moving expert of sorts. I’m now going to disperse some accumulated wisdom (ha!).

Moving house is the ultimate decluttering motivator. All those nooks and crannies, stashes and boxes you have successfully avoided until now are going to be dragged into the light of day, like it or not. And, since you’re actually taking the trouble of packing each possession, you naturally ask yourself, do I really need this?

It’s sobering to realize how much useless stuff tends to pile up in our homes. We’ve lived in our current house less than four years, and things were pretty neat and minimalistic when we arrived (or so I like to think), but now when I open the closets, I’m in danger of getting buried under tottering piles of stuff that can no longer be contained. I have sifted through our clothes, books, toys and other possessions several times during the past months, and still it always seems we have too much stuff. I can only wonder what happens when people live in the same house for decades.

Here are some tips for a sane and environmentally friendly house move:

1. Start early. When you aren’t pressed for time, it’s a lot easier to evaluate your possessions soberly, and look for stuff you might want to give away or sell, rather than just throw into the garbage in a frenzy of decluttering. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and your unused stuff may find a new and productive life in another home. And if you hold a garage sale, you might even earn some cash!

2. Ask yourself, do I really need this? Do I really care enough for this to wrap it carefully and place it in a box and unpack it later? Make some allowance for emotional value, but also evaluate whether your attachment to things doesn’t take away precious space and order. Do you really need those 486 PC manuals? Are you really ever going to fix that old freezer?

3. Use environmentally friendly wrapping materials. Instead of bubble wrap, I wrap my plates, cups, etc, in spare kitchen towels and clothes. This helps save space, too. Old newspapers are another option, but your clothes and linen are something you have to pack anyway, so why not make use of them?

4. Recycle your cardboard boxes. In the past, we have carefully folded and stashed away our boxes to use in the next house move, and in fact, have used the same boxes every time (labeling them with removable stickers rather than markers). Cardboard can also be composted or used for mulching.

Here’s to going through a house move without losing your mind!

Image source: CC0 Creative Commons

Anna Twitto’s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Anna and her husband live on a plot of land in Israel. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. Anna’s books are on her Author Page. Connect with Anna on Facebook and read more about her current projects on her blog. Read all Anna’s Mother Earth News posts here.

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