Once I left my dwelling in California final month to look after my dad in Maryland, I struggled to determine tips on how to do it plastic-free. Transferring throughout the nation can contain quite a lot of disposable plastic in the event you’re not cautious: plastic bubble wrap inside your bins, plastic tape to shut the bins, and plastic stretch wrap round the whole lot. Apparently, stretch wrap is now a transferring firm’s finest good friend. In actual fact, I had the next cellphone dialog with one of many many transferring firm reps I spoke to:
Me: I don’t need my gadgets coated in plastic wrap. Are you able to simply use reusable transferring blankets?
Rep: We do use blankets. However we now have to make use of plastic wrap over the blankets to guard your furnishings. No respected firm would transfer your possessions with out plastic wrap.
Me: How did they do it within the previous days?
Rep: In the event that they had been firm, they used plastic wrap.
Me: I imply, within the days earlier than plastic stretch wrap.
Rep: Good transferring firms have all the time used stretch wrap.
Me: You do understand there was a time earlier than plastic was invented, proper?
Rep: Perhaps they didn’t have transferring firms again then.
Oy. So, okay, I wasn’t in a position to keep away from plastic wrap utterly. However I did decrease it as a lot as attainable. Right here’s what I did, in addition to a couple of issues I’d have accomplished if I’d had extra time.
Decrease the Quantity of Stuff to Move
Since my yr of minimizing and shopping for nothing new, I had already culled quite a lot of my possessions. Years in the past I’d bought most of my CDs and DVDs. I’d decreased my studying library to at least one bookcase. Okay, one double-wide bookcase, however nonetheless… I’d donated garments and dishes and a whole cupboard of stemware (as a result of if you find yourself clumsy and have cats, you’re simply begging for crimson wine accidents.) However even after that, I nonetheless had quite a lot of stuff to maneuver.
I critically thought-about promoting or freely giving the whole lot I owned and utterly beginning over. Individuals do it. Individuals begin downsizing and discover they will’t cease. Individuals unburden themselves of all their possessions and be at liberty afterwards. However for me, when it got here right down to it, I couldn’t do it. This transfer was already fraught with emotion round household and caretaking. I couldn’t deal with the extra weight of lightening my load. So I employed my good friend’s packing firm to pack all of it up.
When you’ve determined what stuff you’re going to maintain, you need to work out tips on how to get it from Level A to Level B. Once I first moved to California in 1989, my stuff match into eight large bins that I shipped by way of UPS. The one furnishings I introduced with me was a two-drawer wood submitting cupboard that slot in a type of bins and that I nonetheless have. Returning to Maryland in 2017, my stuff has expanded to incorporate a queen-sized mattress and mattress (a brilliant costly eco-friendly, all-natural, plastic-free mattress, BTW, which I couldn’t simply substitute), a double-wide bookcase, a number of extra wood submitting cupboards, a couple of different items of furnishings, and about 30 bins value of garments, books, memorabilia, and housewares. By transferring firm requirements, it was a small load. Nonetheless, I used to be going to want a truck and somebody to drive that truck.
Possibility A: Hire a Truck. A number of individuals steered I hire a transferring truck, pack it, and drive my stuff throughout the nation. That might have given me full management over how my gadgets had been packed. It additionally felt scary and harmful (since I’d be doing the driving), and I didn’t have that sort of time anyway. I wanted to get myself to Maryland as quickly as attainable, even when my stuff arrived after I did.
Possibility B: Hire a Pod. I additionally thought-about renting a conveyable transferring container and packing it myself. That means, I’d have management over the packing supplies used and let another person do the driving. It’s an excellent choice, which I additionally didn’t select due to numerous time and skill constraints. Packing a pod your self requires extra effort than merely hiring a transferring firm and having them come and do the whole lot for you.
Possibility C: Rent a full-service transferring firm and monitor them carefully. In the long run, I scoured Yelp for a cross nation transferring firm with the very best optimistic scores and probably the most affordable value. I selected Spartan Van Strains and hoped for the most effective.
Select Transferring Bins
I’ve moved very often inside the San Francisco Bay Space, and every time, I collected used bins from shops and Craigslist, as a substitute of shopping for new bins. If I’d been transferring a brief distance this time, I’d have additionally seemed into reusable transferring bins from a service like ZippGo to keep away from cardboard waste. However the reusable field providers are confined inside native metropolitan areas. A transfer from one coast to the opposite requires cardboard. And contemplating the gap and tough therapy my bins may maintain, I selected to buy new ones from UHaul (created from recycled content material) moderately than reuse bins which may not have been as sturdy. And I’m glad I did. My bins arrived at my new tackle banged up and battered, however due to the cautious packing job and the durability of the bins to start with, none of my stuff was damaged.
(Examine UHaul’s field drop off and field trade packages for what to do together with your bins on the finish of your transfer.)
Use Paper Packing Tape
As a substitute of plastic tape, I used water-activated paper tape to seal all my bins. I selected the sort with out fiberglass reinforcement threads to cut back plastic even additional. I questioned if the tape can be sturdy sufficient and principally held my breath till my belongings arrived. Positive sufficient, the whole lot arrived simply positive. The tape held. However there are tips to creating positive it sticks effectively. Right here’s how I utilized it:
- Moist a strip of water activated (gummed) tape.
- First, apply that strip throughout the field, perpendicular to the seam that you’re sealing to carry the flaps closed. Press it down and easy it out.
- Moist and apply a second strip of tape alongside the flaps seam. Press it down and easy it out effectively, in order that there are not any air bubbles or areas of tape that aren’t utterly caught to the field.
- Remember the fact that the tape is simply sticky when it’s moist, so work rapidly. If it dries earlier than you get it on the field, you’ll have to apply extra water and check out once more.
Word: Life Without Plastic gives a water-activated paper tape with pure rubber adhesive moderately than artificial. Sadly, I didn’t learn about this tape the final time I ordered, so I haven’t tried it.
Water might be utilized to the tape with a sponge, which is how I used to use paper tape to packages earlier than I acquired a dispenser. Water-activated tape dispensers are nice, however they’re heavy and costly in the event you’re solely going to make use of them for one transfer, and the environmental affect of buying a heavy metallic tape dispenser for a single use appears fairly excessive. However since I had been promoting my ebook Plastic-Free and transport it utilizing paper tape for the previous 5 years, I already had the correct dispenser and tape available.
If you happen to’d moderately not spend time making use of water to tape, you’ll be able to nonetheless decrease plastic by selecting self-stick paper tape; nevertheless, I consider that the pressure-sensitive, self-stick tapes are coated with extra plastic than the water-activated sort.
Defend Breakables Without Bubble Wrap
Earlier than using any kind of packing materials, pad breakables and fill in empty areas in bins with clothes, towels, and sheets: issues you need to transfer anyway. It’s an effective way to cut back packaging waste. Nevertheless, remember that it might make discovering issues a bit tougher on the opposite finish. Be sure to label your bins effectively, and don’t pack clothes gadgets you want instantly with gadgets you may not plan to unpack instantly. I discovered this the onerous means.
After utilizing up all of your material gadgets, transfer on to paper. We used unprinted newsprint packing paper. Sure, you’ll be able to repurpose previous newspapers, however the ink can rub off in your gadgets. Packing paper is similar sort of paper with out the ink. You should use it in numerous methods: To wrap round dishes and different breakables, or to create “bumpers” to cushion the bottoms and tops of bins. Right here’s a video explaining tips on how to create paper bumpers and tips on how to pack dishes and breakables. This man makes use of extra paper than I did for every merchandise. There’s a trade-off between saving paper and defending your possessions.
Critically, we packed some footage in heavy glass frames in nothing however cardboard, blankets, and packing paper, and nothing acquired damaged!
Reuse Packing Paper
After unpacking my stuff, I had piles of packing paper to take care of. I may reserve it for future packing. However I discovered an alternate use for it. At my dad’s home, there’s a wastebasket in each room, usually lined with a plastic bag. My household has not transformed to the plastic-free way of life, and utilizing wastebaskets with out liners is just not an choice. So, I’m lining them with packing paper as a substitute of plastic.
Right here’s a video exhibiting tips on how to create a small bin liner from newspaper. Packing paper is extra rectangular than some newspapers, so if you find yourself with additional on the facet after making the primary triangle, simply fold it in. (Some individuals reduce off the surplus, however that simply looks as if additional work to me.) I like the tactic proven on this video as a result of either side of the liner find yourself equally as thick after folding. Word: I solely use one sheet of paper per wastebasket, not the three or 4 really helpful in most directions. If you happen to’re tossing moist stuff, equivalent to when lining a compost bin, you must in all probability use extra.
And listed here are my outcomes re-using clean newsprint packing paper:
Positive, you can simply stuff newspaper into the bin, however this methodology is so much neater.
Encourage Movers to Keep away from the Stretch Wrap
Regardless of my request to the consultant when reserving the transfer, the precise movers confirmed up at my door with a spool of plastic stretch wrap. I requested them to not use it, and for many of the day, it sat exterior my door unused.
They did have to make use of plastic tape, nevertheless, to safe the reusable transferring blankets they used to guard my furnishings. These blankets weren’t going anyplace!
In the direction of the top of the day, I stepped out to deal with one thing else, and once I got here again, I found that a few issues had been totally wrapped in stretch wrap. *Sigh* I did the most effective I may.
If you happen to’re packing your individual pod or transferring truck, you’ll be able to hire furnishings pads created from recycled denim from UHaul. And perhaps you can safe them with reusable bungees in the event you don’t have an excessive amount of furnishings. Only a thought.
What methods have you ever discovered to cut back plastic and different packaging waste on an extended distance transfer?