How to pack for moving the sustainable way

how to pack for moving

Whether you’re excited about starting fresh in your dream space or facing the unexpected challenge of a sudden move, moving to a new home can stir up a mix of feelings. Either way, the process of packing up your life into boxes is an essential step in the process. 

If you’re concerned about sustainability, you might also find yourself wondering about how much waste your move could produce. That’s why we’ve got you covered with some eco-friendly packing strategies that’ll ease your mind and lighten your environmental footprint. Let’s take a look at how to pack for moving sustainably.

Tips for packing to move sustainably

stacked up moving boxes

Moving house is more than just a change of address – fresh starts are a great opportunity to either kickstart your environmentally-friendly lifestyle or keep walking the talk. We’ve put together a moving house checklist that covers how you can pack for your move while making every step as kind to the planet as it is efficient for you. Win-win.

1. Choose reusable packing materials

Swap out single-use packing supplies for ones that can live a second life post-move. Think outside the box – literally. Use suitcases, baskets and even sturdy shopping bags to carry your bits and bobs. Not only does this reduce waste, but it also cuts down on the number of boxes you’ll need.

2. Wrap with what you have

Before reaching for the bubble wrap for your fragile items (think crockery, glassware and artwork), consider soft alternatives you’ve already got at home. Tea towels, pillowcases and even clothes can do just as good a job protecting your dishes and decor. You’ll save on packing materials and pack your linen and clothes in one hit.

3. Declutter responsibly

It’s time to channel your inner Marie Kondo. A move is the perfect time to reassess what belongings truly *spark joy* in your life – and when items don’t make the cut, think green. Donate them to local charities, offer them to friends or sell them. It’ll reduce waste, and your items will find a new home with someone who needs and loves them.

4. Borrow instead of buy

If you need more packing containers, ask around before buying new ones. Many moving and storage companies offer rental crates, and your friends, neighbours and Buy Nothing groups might have spare boxes. It’s a great way to be part of the sharing economy and helps reduce the demand for new materials.

5. Reuse or recycle packing supplies

Once you’re settled into your new place, it’s time to give your packing supplies and moving boxes a second life. You can break down and recycle cardboard boxes, and you can save packing peanuts and bubble wrap for future moves or pass them on to someone else who’s moving.

How to pack up a house for moving

house in a box with packing peanuts

We’ve covered how to pack sustainably – now let’s break it down room by room to really dig into the opportunities for environmentally friendly choices. 

Here’s how to tackle packing to move organised by room:


  • Wrap fragile items with fabric. Use dish towels, aprons and even T-shirts to wrap dishes and glassware. This method reduces the need for plastic bubble wrap and uses items that need to be packed anyway.
  • Pack plates vertically. Did you know that plates are less likely to break when packed on their side? Wrap each plate in a tea towel and place it in a sturdy box or suitcase.
  • Repurpose containers. Use pots and food storage containers to store spices or small kitchen gadgets. This one’s all about using space efficiently and reducing the need for new packing materials.
  • Use egg cartons. Egg cartons can be super helpful for packing small kitchen items like spices, baking items and measuring spoons. Their compartments provide perfect little slots that keep these items secure during the move, preventing them from getting lost or damaged.

Living room

  • Declutter before packing. Before you start to pack, take the time to sort through your decorations, books and electronics (we’re looking at you, box of random cables). Donate or sell pieces you don’t use to reduce the volume of things you’re moving.
  • Use what you have. Again, cushions, throw blankets and even scarves can protect fragile items like vases or electronics.
  • Pack books in suitcases. Books in bulk are seriously heavy, but rolling suitcases make them easier to move without using boxes. 
  • Use eco-friendly bubble wrap. If you’ve got something super fragile that needs bubble wrap, look for greener alternatives made from recycled polyethylene. It’s easier to recycle and reduces your move’s environmental footprint.


  • Use suitcases for clothes. Suitcases are ideal for transporting clothes – it’s what they were made for, after all. They’re sturdy, easy to move and reduce the need for boxes. Also, roll clothes instead of folding. This saves space, so you can fit more items into each case.
  • Use vacuum bags for bulkier items. For bulky items like quilts or winter coats, consider using vacuum seal bags that you can reuse later for storage.
  • Donate gently used bedding. If you’re upgrading your linen in your new home, donate your old sets to charities. Animal and homeless shelters always appreciate bedding donations. 


  • Contain leaks. Reduce spills and waste by opening toiletries and popping a reusable and waterproof ziplock bag over the opening before screwing the lid back on. The bag can then be ziplocked and packed with other bathroom items.
  • Create a sustainable toiletry kit for moving day. Pack a small bag with essential toiletries in travel-sized, reusable containers for the first night in your new home. This prevents the need to unpack everything immediately and reduces reliance on single-use plastic toiletries during your move.

Garage and outdoor equipment

  • Move or dispose of hazardous materials safely. Be careful with items like paint, chemicals and batteries when moving. If the contents of your garage need a good tidy-up before moving day, look for local hazardous waste disposal facilities to handle these items responsibly. If you need to move hazardous materials or items, label them clearly by marking each container with its contents and packing them appropriately. This will ensure handlers are aware of the risks and can act accordingly in case of an emergency.
  • Use towels and rags for padding. Protect tools and outdoor equipment by wrapping them in old towels or rags. This reduces the need for bubble wrap and can repurpose materials that might otherwise be thrown away.

Packing to move can be straightforward

Packing for a move doesn’t have to be overwhelming or wasteful – think of it as an opportunity to start fresh. By following our eco-friendly packing tips, you can not only make your move easier but also feel good about helping keep our planet healthy.

For more tips and support for making your move as smooth and eco-friendly as possible, visit Happly.

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