If you’re like most families, once your move is done and you’ve handled all the unpacking, you’re left with a pile of boxes, newspapers, packing peanuts, Styrofoam, and more. These materials, which make it possible for you to get all your belongings moved in one piece, can take up quite a bit of space—and might even be damaging to throw away in the regular garbage.
For an eco-friendly move that you can feel good about, here are ways to consider recycling your moving materials.
> Cardboard Boxes: Most cardboard boxes can be reused after a move. Although the structural integrity will never be quite the same, many people don’t mind using gently used boxes for their own purposes. Put them up on a cardboard box exchange, list them on Craigslist, give them back to the movers, or ask local businesses if they can use them. Most cardboard boxes can also be composted or recycled in traditional bins if you break them down first.
> Newspaper: Using newspaper as a way to wrap breakables and fill dead space in boxes is great because it is so easily recycled. It can almost always be tossed in with your regular recycling or used for things like yard work or art projects around the house. Packing and butcher paper typically fall under this category, as well.
> Bubble Wrap/Air Cushions: After the bubble wrap has served its purpose (and your kids have gotten all the pleasure they can out of popping it), it should be recycled in the same way you would dispose of plastic grocery bags, bread bags, and dry-cleaning bags. Many city programs accept these items if they are disposed of properly. You might also contact the company that provided the wrap to see if they have a recycling program. Some of them have directions for deflating the wrap and then sending it into them to be disposed of or used for additional manufacturing.
> Packing Peanuts: There are two types of packing peanuts: those made of biodegradable materials and those made from expanded polystyrene (EPS). If yours are the biodegradable kind, they can be thrown out or used in your compost, as they’ll quickly break down in the elements. If yours are the EPS kind, you should find a mail-back program that accepts the peanuts via mail to dispose of for you. You can also see if area businesses would be willing to reuse them and donate accordingly. Styrofoam inserts for things like televisions or appliances are often best kept in your storage, as they’ll allow you to repack your electronics exactly the same way later on down the road.
> Packing Crates: Although the use of wooden crates isn’t as common (because they’re heavier, bulkier, and more expensive), these do occasionally crop up. They also tend to be highly reusable, as they make great shelves and craft projects for DIY decorators.
If you have any questions about what may or may not be recycled, always contact your local moving company and your new city’s waste centers. They should have a list of acceptable materials to place in the recycling bin or ideas about where to send your extras.