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10 tips for a less wasteful move

January 14, 2019


Moving is no small feat. It's time consuming, expensive, annoying and ALWAYS more work than expected ("where did ALL THIS STUFF come from?!"). But it's also a great excuse/opportunity to take stock of your belongings, clear out the old (and unsustainable) and start fresh.


When I recently moved from my bachelor apartment to a 3 bedroom home, I knew I wanted to be mindful about what I was bringing with me as I wanted to start this "new life" with things that I loved, and build from there.


I lived alone, so much of the packing and de-cluttering was done by me, but if you live with a partner, a roommate, your parents etc...this can also be a group effort. Whether you're moving yourself or hiring a company to move your items, below are the top 10 things I did (and learned) as I brought my new zero waste lifestyle with me through the move.


1. Start early - begin downsizing ASAP

If I could suggest just ONE thing, it would be this. Starting early (at least 6 weeks) saved me major headaches and meltdowns during our move. I was just about 6 months pregnant and we were moving over the Christmas holidays, so I knew things were going to be BUSY and that I could be of most help in the downsizing and packing department, since I wouldn't be doing much heavy lifting day-of.


I began to separate my items, room by room and had bins going for things like "Donations to the Goodwill", "Donations to the Food Bank" and "Give to Friends" for things like face masks and shaving creams I didn't want to take with me, but thought might be useful to friends and wouldn't go to waste (success!). Here are some ideas on items I put into those bins:


Donate to the Goodwill

  • clothing

  • knick-knacks

  • picture frames

  • Kitchen utensils (I had 4 spatulas that were exactly the same...I kept 1)

  • DVD's

  • Art

  • Packaged food to your local Food Bank (I knew I was going to be restocking my pantry with bulk items)


Give Away to Friends who will use

  • cleaning supplies I had collected over the years (if packaged and/or not quite natural and I knew I wouldn't use)

  • packaged and perishable foods

  • beauty products and toiletries (I kept 1 of everything and only my favourites i.e. toothpaste, face cream, face wash etc.)



  • Old paperwork you don't need anymore

  • magazines (or donate to doctor's offices)

  • newspapers

  • greeting cards (any glitter or photos will have to be removed first)

  • envelopes (remove plastic window first)


2. Boxes/Packing 


Rather than buying packing and moving materials, use totes, luggage, ask friends for boxes, go to the liquor store and/or grocery stores to get boxes for free and that can be recycled. This not only allowed us to avoid extra waste but saved us a good chunk of money in our move. After downsizing, all of our belongings fit into approximately 15 totes, 2 pieces of luggage and a couple of boxes.


You can also rent boxes from companies like Frogbox who will not only deliver the boxes to you, but also pick them up once you're moved in.


3. Ditch the bubble wrap and styrofoam peanuts


Pad your belongings with tea towels, face cloths, t-shirts and socks you know you won't be wearing until after the move. In all of my last 3 moves, I have done this and not one single thing has broken. This also avoids the headache of dealing with all sorts of packing material once you're moved in and just want to relax.


4. Tie boxes with rope/twine instead of tape


Classic tape is not recyclable and most people are not likely to separate it anyway after you're done moving. If you're using totes or Frogbox, you won't need tape anyway.


5. Ask friends for help


This may not seem like a tip for reducing waste, but taking friends and family up on their generous offers to help with the move in or out, saved us time, energy and money. Nine times out of ten, your friends are willing to help, just make sure to thank them with a good meal and/or good drink.


6. When packing, make sure utensils and plates are labelled/findable so when you feed your moving helpers, you aren't tempted to use disposables


7. When moved in, go to second hand stores or shop online marketplaces for any items/furniture you might still need


When we moved, we needed all the appliances, and were able to find a washer, dryer and stove second hand that all work great. We did buy our fridge brand new as well as a new mattress since we were moving my old one into our new spare room.


8. Set up recycling and compost right away


It's easy to get a little lazy when you move in, but all you need to do is set up a couple of boxes designated for recyclables and a bin for compost and let your moving helpers know where to place things. You can use proper bins when you get more settled, but in the meantime, this will help you avoid the convenience of "the garbage bin" where everything gets thrown in the hustle and bustle.


9. Research your new municipality's rules on waste/recycling/green bin ASAP


One of my biggest lessons when moving is that all municipalities have slightly different rules when it comes to waste. The day after moving in (or you can do this prior to the move as well), I called my new municipality and asked about their rules - I found out I can recycle glass curb side here whereas I had to take glass to the depot where I lived last - WIN!


10. Lastly, take a long walk around your new neighbourhood instead of a drive. Soak it up, and enjoy.


We're currently still in the process of unpacking and since we're outfitting a nursery and a spare bedroom this time, we will likely need a few more things. Fortunately, we have lots of time before the baby comes (3 months) so I'll be looking for everything I can second hand.


Give yourself time if you can, and make sure to enjoy the process along the way - I can't begin to tell you how good it feels to unpack in our new home, and not only LOVE everything we have, but also have ROOM in the cupboards.


Aaahhh, the little things.


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