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Minimize Waste & Maximize Sustainability When Moving

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From the time we’re young, we’re taught about the importance of recycling and reducing waste for our planet. We’re taught about reusing plastics, reducing our consumption of paper and petroleum products, and the immense benefits that walking or bike riding – rather than driving – can have on our environment.

In our backyard of Metro Vancouver, our city is actively working towards the goals and targets of the Greenest City Action Plan, which is aiming to reduce solid waste going into local landfills and incinerators by 50% from 2008 levels, by 2020.

As of 2014, recycling efforts in Vancouver have reduced solid waste diversion by 23%.

At Action Movers, we feel strongly that moving should be no different and that we should support these targets. For this reason, we advocate for a more conscious, green moving process and adapt our practices to lend a hand to our environment. By choosing green moving supplies, recycling those moving supplies, and recycling unwanted items, we can help to make your move a positive experience with sustainability in mind.

Here are some tips that you can apply to decrease the environmental footprint of your next move.

  1. Use recycled boxes/green moving supplies – Try not to buy new cardboard boxes if that’s the route that’s most applicable for your move. There are literally thousands of cardboard boxes available from local businesses, neighbours, and online from other moves. Research ways to get your hands on recycled boxes helps to reduce the demand for new cardboard supplies. Use websites like Kijiji or Craigslist to help find recycled boxes that people want to get rid of from their own moves. If you can’t seem to find old recycled boxes, opt for corrugated boxes with the highest content of recycled material possible or opt for re-usable plastic containers. Be sure to investigate green moving supplies as well, like packing tapes made from recycled materials, and biodegradable plastic bags.
  1. Pack your clothes in duffel bags, backpacks, and suitcases you already own – Instead of packing everything into plastic garbage bags or using extra cardboard boxes to accommodate your wardrobe, consider packing your belongings into backpacks, suitcases and duffel bags that you already own. They’re inevitably going to be packed up anyway, so why not use them for their intended purpose; packing clothing? This will hugely help to reduce the amount of bags and boxes you’ll use, especially if you have a large family.
  1. Investigate reusable moving bins – Ask your moving company about renting reusable plastic moving containers. These plastic tote bins are easily stackable, can accommodate heavier loads than traditional cardboard boxes, and get reused over and over again. For the added cost, they help keep your move as sustainable as possible. They also eliminate your additional task of disposing of the boxes after you move into your new home.
  1. Properly and responsibly dispose of hazardous materials – Be sure to dispose of hazardous materials like automobile supplies like motor oil and various coolants, paints, cleaning supplies, chemicals, pesticides/herbicides, etc. In Metro Vancouver, motor oils, antifreeze, empty oil containers and filters are not accepted at Transfer Stations, but can be disposed of sustainably with the BC Used Oil Management Association. Flammable liquids like gasoline and pesticides can be disposed of with Vancouver-based Product Care. Old car, motorcycle, and recreational vehicle tires can be disposed of by using the Tire Stewardship BC program. The TSBC is a not-for-profit group that that manages BC’s tire recycling programs. On average, the program recycles between 80-90% of tires, and turns them into crumb rubber, which is recycled into products like athletic tracks, flooring, playground surfacing, and coloured landscaping mulch. Unused prescription medications, pet meds, vitamins, and supplements can be returned to your local pharmacy.
  1. Use old newspapers to wrap your fragile possessions – Newspapers are usually abundant in every household, and are always readily available for moving purposes. Wrap your breakable and fragile materials and possessions in used newspaper instead of expensive bubble-wrap, and feel good knowing that when your movie is complete, all newspaper and paper products are welcomed to be recycled at the Vancouver Transfer Station Recycling Depot. Use old magazine pages, flyers, catalogues, and phone books to wrap glasses, china, crystal, etc.
  1. Recycle old appliances, scrap metal, mattresses appropriately – The City of Vancouver allows for the recycling of old mattresses to landfills and Transfer Stations for a fee. Scrap metal such as old wheelbarrows, tools, lawn mowers (with fluids drained), gutters/eaves troughs, hubcaps, boilers, bike frames, sinks, shelving, bed frames, tables, garbage cans, etc., are all accepted at the Transfer Station Recycling Depot. A maximum of 5 power tools per customer are also accepted at the Transfer Station for a fee. Similar Items like small appliances, household electronics and power tools can also be disposed of for free at the Return-it electronics recycling depot.
  1. Host a yard sale prior to your move – Take this opportunity to lessen your load and host a yard sale before you begin rehoming. Sell anything that you find you haven’t used in 6 months or more – chances are you won’t miss these things if you haven’t thought about them in this long. Sell off excess clothing, old appliances, video game consoles, books, furniture, toys, cribs and other outgrown child products, etc. Not only will you lighten your load, making your move faster, greener and more sustainable, but you’ll add a little green to your pocket, too. Use those funds to fiancé the rental of plastic reusable green moving containers from your moving company, perhaps.
  1. Donate leftover/unwanted items – Anything left over from your yard sale can be donated to a variety of local GoodWill, Salvation Army, Value Village, or other thrift stores type establishments. You’ll be actively keeping these items – like mattresses, toys, clothing etc – out of landfills and will be helping to strengthen the communities they end up in. Be sure to drop off your used goods to these locations in a recycled cardboard box, or recycled plastic bags, as well. These can be recycled by the stores. Some of these organizations may even volunteer to pick up your unwanted goods directly at your home. If you have unusable clothing, these items can be recycled to your local transfer station recycling depot.
  1. Give leftover food to neighbours or donate to a food bank – When you’re emptying your fridge and kitchen cupboards, take a good look at the food that Is likely not going to be missed – but instead of throwing it out, or feeding leftovers to the dog – donate non-perishable food items to your local food bank, and offer fruit and veggies to neighbours, friends or family.
  1. Sustainably dispose of packing supplies and “think green” – Check with your moving company, and local shipping stores to see if they can reuse or recycle your moving supplies like old boxes, leftover packing tape, etc. Check in with friends and family to see if anyone they know of could use your boxes. When you get settled into your new home, immediately set up a recycling program for your household. Set up your blue boxes where you accumulate recycling materials, and inquire with your new town/city hall about recycling programs within your new community. When you’re replenishing your recycled cleaning supplies, take a moment and search out natural and green alternatives so further support the greenification of our communities. Finally, when you’re looking to purchase new kitchen appliances, TV’s, washing/drying units, consider buying used. There are many places where you can find gently-used appliances and other household appliances that look and perform like new. Remember, reducing waste and encouraging sustainability starts by thinking about how you can reduce your carbon footprint and embrace established recycling/reducing/reusable technologies and ideas.

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