How To Move House – The Zero Waste Way

It’s a year of new beginnings here at Zero Waste Towers. (That’s my upbeat way of saying many things are ending!)

One thing that is on the cards is a house move for my daughter.

She’s got a job the other side of the city and, as she doesn’t drive – and we live in a rural area – she’s spending far too much time travelling. As she works nights, her commute eats in to her precious sleep time! So she’s planning on moving out to live closer to work.

The last time I moved house was over 21 years ago. Way before I was aware or interested about the impact of my lifestyle choices on the environment. I hate to think how many perfectly good things ended up in landfill. But there we are. We live and learn.

This time things will be different and I’m hoping we can move her out without throwing much away. Here are some ideas we have, and I’d love to hear your thoughts too:

Plan in advance

One thing my daughter is not known for, is planning in advance! But it’s essential, right? By leaving yourself enough time, you can book slots at the recycling centre, get things listed for sale, take advantage of charity collections, start saving packaging and basically get yourself organised, so you’re not left with that desperate shortage of time, when your only option is to throw things ‘away’ or things get broken in the move.

Get your mindset right

I find that reverse engineering my thinking can be really helpful in keeping me on track. I admit I like convenience, I love the thought of shoving things in black bags out of sight, out of mind, so I need to be mindful of my choices. Remembering that there is no such place as away (when I think about throwing something away), that my children and grandchildren deserve to inherit a healthy and safe planet and the idea that things I throw away today might still be there in a couple of hundred years time, help me to make the right choice when I’m craving the easy option.


By planning in advance, you can start collecting suitable packaging materials. Save any boxes that come into your home, along with bubble wrap to protect delicate items. You might find free packaging materials on your local Facebook noticeboard. Charity bags that come through your letterbox can be saved up and used too. And you can, of course, wrap things in towels, bedding and your own clothes – that way you don’t need any extras at all! When it comes to packing things in boxes, write the contents on the long side, a short side and the top – this will save you a lot of time and frustration when you get to your new home!


8 tips for a zero waste house move


Donate to charity

One of the simplest ways to get rid of books you no longer read, clothes you’ll never wear again, kitchenware you thought was a must-have, but which actually gathers dust and ornaments you’ve fallen out of love with, is to donate to charity. If you don’t have time or the means to deliver, some charities will collect from your home if you let them know what you have to give them. You can search for your nearest charity shop here.

Give to your community

There are other ways to donate to your local community too. For example, books and magazines could go to community libraries or to a local doctor’s surgery / hospital waiting room. In some areas of the UK, communities have bought old telephone boxes and turned them into a book give-and-take where you can take along books you no longer read. Our local shop takes children’s books and offers them to local school children.

Give it away to family or locals

Many items in our homes are not worth anything money-wise, but are still full of life and are too good to throw away. Examples of this includes large items of furniture, old toys and kitchen gadgets.

Once you’ve exhausted your list of friends and family, it’s time to reach out into the local area. Online sites such as Freegle, Freecycle and Facebook noticeboards are a brilliant way to rehome things you no longer want. For free! The beauty is that people will come to your house to collect. This frees up your time to focus on the things you need to do and allows you to easily reclaim space.

Run down the fridge/ freezer/ kitchen cupboards

When my daughter left uni, she ended up with loads of food waste, as the frozen food wouldn’t have survived the journey back home. She’s learning from that mistake this time and will be ‘shopping in the freezer’ between now and when she moves out. It’s a good thing to do periodically for anybody, so that all those UFOs (unlabelled frozen objects) get eaten up and you can defrost, clean and maintain your freezer. It saves a lot of money in that run up to moving, which is a bonus to offset any unexpected costs.

It’s ok to hire a skip (but do it right)

Perhaps you are like my daughter and forward planning is not your forte, or maybe you don’t have transport, so can’t donate / recycle things easily. In this instance your only option might be hiring a skip bin

Once upon a time, this was a pretty bad thing to do for the environment, as everything was dumped in landfill. But things have improved dramatically. An increased awareness about risks to the environment means companies these days operate strict recycling policies. For example, registered companies aim to minimise landfill through waste resource recovery, re-marketing and landfill avoidance. And up to 80% of all skip bin rubbish is recycled. So you can opt for convenience whilst keeping your conscience intact!

What about you? Have you moved house without putting anything in landfill? What tips do you have?

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Rachelle Strauss

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