how to have a low waste move

Moving wasn’t something I knew much about for much of my life. I spent 22 years in the same home and then in the span of less than two years I moved across Canada four times. I suddenly had to learn what it meant to pack up all my stuff and unpack it somewhere else in a new home.

Those moves were easy in a way however since we didn’t own any furniture. Most of my stuff was clothes and kitchen supplies and that has all changed now.

This upcoming week will hopefully be my last move for a very long time as we are moving into our own place that we have bought. It is also a close move which is interesting since that is something that I have never done as all of my moves were literally provinces away.

Moving is one of those things that can be either very wasteful, or sustainable, it all depends on how you do it. Here are some of the ways that I am going to make this move less wasteful and be sure to share your tips in the comment section!

Packing Material

There is no need to get bubble wrap or lots of packing paper. Our rental van has the option to get fabric pads for the big items and for smaller items we are using extra sheets, towels, and other bulky clothing items.

For smaller items a great way that I love to pack is by collect the shreddings from my paper shredder. These can be easily packed around wine glasses and other kitchen items that can easily break. You can also use newspaper which for us is free and comes every week.

Regular packing tape can’t be recycled in any way, but one thing to look for is paper tape which lots of companies use. This is just as sturdy as regular tape, but much more sustainably at the end of your move. Personally we still have enough packing tape from previous moves that we will not need to buy anything at all.


Use containers you already have. This should always be the first place to check. If you have items that you can put other items in do it! Even our laundry bins and storage bins will be put to work.

Once we ran out of boxes we owned we needed to start turning to cardboard boxes. There is no need to buy those boxes new as I am sure there is someone in your life who either recently moved and has boxes or works somewhere that has lots of boxes. For us that is Nigel so I have lots of stuff packed in french fry and other frozen food boxes.

Moving Prep

Use up what you can from the pantry/fridge/freezer. To save me time packing and moving I am trying to use up as much of my food as possible. This is a great way to use up all of the random items that get shoved to the back of the freezer or pantry that you forgot into fun meals and then you don’t have to use the space to move those items.

Declutter as much as possible. Moving is a great time to declutter since you can decide whether or not you want to move it with you. As I discussed in my decluttering responsibly post it is important to make sure that you are taking the items to the right place, but the more you get rid of the less you have to pack up and move.

The First Few Days

Try your best to not rely on disposable products as much as you can. Due to wanting to paint and timing we are going to be living in two places at once, one during the day to paint and renovate and our old place at night to sleep. To prepare for this I packed up half of our dishes and essential cooking supplies and brought them to the new place on day one. This meant that I had to prepare a bit for supplies, but I had everything I needed without needing to get anything disposable.

This also applies to food. We knew we wouldn’t have much energy to cook during the prep week so in the weeks before we froze leftovers so we could have dinner in a short amount of time without getting take out every night (though we definitely did get pizza on the first evening).

All of these things do require some preparation and some forethought before your move and it isn’t always as easy as going to pick up tons of boxes, bubble wrap, and paper plates, but when you are done your move all of that stuff has to go somewhere. Yes you can pass it on to others who are moving (and I strongly suggest that you do), but the less new materials that you can use in your move, the more responsible it will be.

Do you have any other low waste moving tips? Share them in the comments below.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Amy Helina says:

    When we moved, we didn’t buy any moving supplies. Most people collect plastic shopping bags from stores after grocery shopping. We do too, and those were put to work for packing glass materials. Also, if boxes are needed, local stores always get shipments in boxes and are usually happy to give them away. Recycle those boxes by using them for moving. Boxes that didn’t get destroyed in the move were then donated to our local salvage yard for additional shipping purposes or containers for our recycling otherwise.


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