Saturday, July 26, 2008

Get Going Already! - My Green Move - Finale

We have made the move, and in retrospect those last few days before liftoff were a little tough. Actually, between saying goodbye to all of our loved friends and family and packing everything into a Tetris expert level space, we knew it was pretty rough going as it was happening!

Two days without sleep does strange things to a man

In addition to those goodbyes, were the numerous trips up and down the gauntlet of the three flights of stairs that stand between the ground floor and our old abode. However, our quest to move as little as possible extended into the wee hours of the morning, and I am happy to report that at final count, we only threw away three bags of garbage and one mangled and heavily used pressboard bureau from Ikea. Yes, their stuff is cheap, but after 3 moves and seven years of use there was just no more life left in this piece of disposable furniture.

All in all though, our casualties were low, and we moved all of our possessions in that 6x8x9 area of rented space on the moving truck (that's 432 cubic feet for anyone keeping track), and trust me, in order to make it work, we were forced to go vertical! But on a sweltering morning in the middle of July, we bid a fond farewell to our hilltop home, and headed West. Once we had creatively, reused, recycled, gifted, sold, and re-homed all of our unneeded possessions, we focused on an environmental move in terms of transportation and moving supplies.

Much of the trip looked like this...

...Except when it looked like this!

Here's how we made sure the final chapter of our move was as environmentally friendly as the first two:

Pack it in recycled boxes - Yes, we still had plenty of stuff left, and once we had filled all of our suitcases, various duffels from college sports, and anything else that resembled a box - bureau, laundry hamper, magazine baskets - the bottom line was that we still needed boxes - quite a few of them! Before heading over to your local packing store to BUY new boxes, ask around. We knew a couple of people, who had moved in recent months, and between them and the just used moving boxes we found at our school's dumpster, we found ourselves with a plethora of boxes!

While I'm not necessarily advocating dumpster diving, it certainly feels much better knowing that you have removed something from the disposal life cycle rather than adding to it.

Don't let the boxes die with you! - Once you get to your destination, don't forget to pass those boxes along for further reuse. Uhaul locations all have a free box exchange program where used boxes can be dropped off or picked up for reuse. Also try to reuse or give away packing peanuts and bubble tape as well. Many UPS locations and pack and ship stores will accept packing peanuts for reuse.

Pack it tightly - Use all possible space. Think of it as a jigsaw puzzle of belongings. Fewer boxes=less space on a moving truck.

Last-minute giveaway bonanza - You can bet that everyone who entered our apartment in that final week before the move was exuberantly showered with an array of last minute detritus: One of my friends was very excited about my collection of 2008 Sunday NY Times - (they will supply her rabbit with bedding for months to come), and several jars of pickles went to my in-laws (my father-in-law shares my pickle addiction), and despite our commitment to drink as much as possible in the weeks leading to our departure, our leftover liquor cabinet was a boon to thirsty friends.

Leave a housewarming gift - And no, I don't mean your old toilet brush, but if you are making a long trek, consider leaving behind some nice items (wine, olive oil) that won't travel well and are heavy, as well as some cleaning supplies, which are always useful when moving.

Let Your Boxes Ride the Rail - Although we didn't go this route, another environmentally and economically sound way to move belongings around the country is on Amtrack. Keep in mind that there are restrictions on box sizes and weights, but a couple of my friends have used this service for several moves and all highly recommend it.

Travel Light - However you choose to make your way cross country or across your city, be sure you are driving a fuel efficient vehicle. Ours looked so tiny that a friend at our first stop in Chicago asked why we didn't spend the extra hundred dollars for a more spacious car; she thought it was a rental!

It wasn't - we drove my Toyota Corolla across and kept track of the mileage, which varied depending on weather conditions, road (highway vs. secondary), and speed, but we averaged about 32-34 mpg with a pretty loaded car.

Toonces the Driving Cat says:
"Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your gas mileage:"

  • Travel as lightly as possible - less weight = better fuel efficiency
  • Remove any unnecessary racks, bikes, or anything else that might cause drag
  • Be sure your tires are properly inflated
  • Get a tune up before you go - a properly tuned engine will run much more efficiently
  • Air condition sparingly - enough to keep you from overheating, but not to chill the car (no sweaters or scarves in mid-July!)
For more fuel efficiency tips, check out Popular Mechanic's recent article, "10 Quick Fuel Efficiency Tips to Beat the Gas Crunch".


sheldonu said...

Dear Picklepuss,
It it is I, your father-in-law.
Just writing to disabuse you and your readers of your foul calumny regarding my alleged pickle dependency (much more PC).
I can stop eating pickles anytime I want. Today, for example, I forswore the briny goodies from bedtime 'til half past ten. And anyway, everyone knows that Gherkins don't count.
You, on the other hand....

Love from scenic New England

Derry said...

Hi there

Just a note to say I like the angles you are hitting on this blog and not to forget WWOOF when discussing your 'organizations to help change the world'.

WWOOF already has done so much to educate people about sustainable ways of living.

I'm developing a space called WWOOF*ed where past and present people can share their stories and adventures of life lived and learned sustainably.

The URL is

Hope you can check it out...

best wishes