I’m moving in eight weeks and am trying to find some “green guidance”

I’m moving in eight weeks and am trying to find some “green guidance” for making my relocation as eco-friendly as possible. Any tips?

—Holly, Elizabethtown, PA

Moving may be inherently unfriendly to the environment given that carting stuff around means expending lots of fuel and emitting a lot of pollutants, but there are ways to “relocate responsibly.” For starters, the less stuff we accumulate in the first place the less we have to pick up and move elsewhere—so fighting the pack-rat urge and minimizing trips to shopping malls in the first place are good prerequisites.

Beyond what may already be too late to undo, though, one can lessen their environmental footprint when moving by first giving away or selling any non-essential items. Neighborhood yard sales and giveaways are one way to go, while websites like Ebay, Craig’s List and Freecycle provide virtual ways to unload unwanted stuff. Books can be donated to local libraries, and most schools will be happy to make use of old computers. And Goodwill and other charities will gladly take old clothes for resale in thrift outlets.

While all that’s going on, the environmentally-conscious mover would also want to be hoarding bubble wrap, cardboard boxes, padded envelopes and other packing materials instead of going out and buying them new. Many liquor, grocery, hardware and other retail stores are happy to give away large cardboard boxes they no longer need and would have to otherwise discard or recycle. Calling around first will save the headache and the emissions of driving around to individual stores one-by-one to ask them.

As to the move itself, if you’re fortunate enough to be relocating within Orange County, Los Angeles one green option is to rent “RecoPack” moving boxes from Earth Friendly Moving. The company, which has plans to expand nationwide over the next five years, provides five different stackable sizes of durable moving cartons made from recycled plastic bottles. The rental cost is just a dollar per box per week—and the company’s biodiesel-powered trucks will drop-off and pick-up the boxes before and after the move.

Not in southern California? Rent-a-Crate, which has 13 U.S. locations coast to coast, also rents re-usable (though not recycled) plastic moving crates that they”ll deliver to and pick up from any location. The company works extensively in the office relocation business, too, and rents other reusable accessories such as dollies for rolling heavy crates and crates for delicate items like computers and even medical x-ray films.

And remember, there is more to moving green than just moving. Use only eco-friendly cleaning products when scrubbing down the old place. If you live in the Washington, DC or Baltimore, MD area, a crew from Green Clean will send a professional crew that uses only nontoxic, biodegradable cleaners. Otherwise, health food stores all carry green cleaners that you can use yourself or instruct the hired help to use.

A tip from the Care2 “Green Moving Guide”: File a temporary change of address with your post office rather than a permanent one to cut down on junk mail at the new place. The U.S. Postal Service sells lists of permanent address changes to direct marketers, but doesn’t bother doing so with temporary addresses.

CONTACTS: Rent-a-Crate, 800-427-2832; Earth Friendly Moving; Green Clean; Care2 Green Moving Guide