Ah, St. Patrick’s Day! A time for silly green sweaters and spilling green beer on ourselves!
What’s that? You’re too busy moving to a new apartment to get your Irish on? Well take heart, lads and lassies, you can still celebrate St. Paddy’s! With these five tips for saving some green on your move while being greener along the way, you’ll be drinking in the An t-áadh na n Gael more than any of your fellow muckers heading out on the lash for a craic.
Anyway, you get the idea.
#1. Do your own packing, then use blankets and towels instead of just packing paper
Your movers may be quick, but packing still takes time and can cost a modest pot o’ gold. Make no mistake; packing up your home is a big job. Give yourself plenty of time – and by that we mean weeks. If you’re not sure of your packing skills, do the easy stuff like clothes and bedding and leave the kitchen and the china hutch for the movers. Paying them to pack it right can be cheaper than having to replace it because you packed it wrong.
But if you are doing your own packing, use blankets, towels and (older) t-shirts and sweatshirts to wrap items like small picture frames, knick-knacks, even some of your kitchen items. Those hundreds of small items stuffed into your bathroom and kitchen and desk drawers? Grab a hand towel or shirt and roll that stuff up into neat bundles that you can quickly and easily empty right back into the drawers of your new home.
#2. Streamline your stuff, then rent plastic bins
Having less stuff to pack means less money spent on packing materials. Moving less stuff means less money spent on movers. So donate all those unwanted clothes and find new homes for all those books you’ll never read again. Sell. Recycle. Let your friends come by and help themselves to all the things you don’t really need. And that sofa and loveseat whose days are numbered anyway? Enjoy one final Netflix moment together and then say goodbye. Imagine the cash you’ll save not having to rent a second PODS. Plus, your new home will feel even newer without all that old stuff.
Some places rent reusable bins for DIY moving, while some moving companies have incorporated them into their list of services. A quick search got us bin rental outfits in Seattle, Washington DC, and New York City. BinIt serves New York, New Jersey, Nashville and Indianapolis. U-Haul provides bins in various locations in California and Arizona, while BungoBox has fifteen locations scattered across the US east of the Rocky Mountains.
#3. Empty your fridge, but keep that roll of tape full
Clear out your refrigerator a little more each day by polishing off what’s in there. Empty the pantry and clear the cabinets. Discover your culinary genius while keeping your final month’s food budget in your wallet. (As a bonus, you’ll have more time to pack since you won’t be out food shopping!)
On the flip side, packed right (meaning full but not overstuffed) boxes only require a few strips of tape on the bottom, then a few more on top. Your boxes should remain shut and secure, but they don’t need to be hermetically-sealed.
#4. Get Insurance, but get used boxes
That’s right. Spend a little money now… or risk spending a lot more later. Moving companies will generally offer basic coverage against loss or damage to your stuff at sixty cents per pound, per item. This means they’ll pay you $12 if they destroy your 20-pound flat screen TV. If you’ve purchased coverage, the company might be required to replace that TV. Yes, MIGHT. So make sure you understand the terms of any coverage you purchase. Or think about moving your most expensive items in your own car instead.
Here’s where you can save some money instead: any major van line agency in your area should sell cheap boxes (and some throw in used packing paper for free). Another quick option is the local U-Haul’s “Take A Box Leave A Box” program, where people drop off their used boxes at any U-Haul center for others to use – all for free.
Other possibilities include liquor stores, office supply shops, drug stores and, interestingly, McDonald’s has sturdy fry boxes (which are used for frozen food, so they should be clean). Grocery store boxes can be sturdy, but steer clear of produce boxes. Online, search for “free boxes” on freecycle.com or Craigslist. And of course, resell or recycle when you’re done.
#5. Get some VALUE, get RID of shrink wrap
Scams abound, and a too-low-to-be-true estimate usually leads to extra charges, damaged goods and/or the disappearance of all your stuff, right along with the truck and the driver. Seriously, don’t get drawn in by a low-ball estimate. Instead, do your due diligence on the companies vying for your business. Don’t think about the $200 you can save, think about what you are getting for $700 instead of $500.
The thing you don’t want to get is shrinkwrap. Otherwise known as Saran Wrap on steroids, shrink wrap is normally used to protect upholstered furniture (and sometimes mattresses). But while it can be an effective shield against dust and dirt, it isn’t reusable, so you end up with a massive wad of useless plastic. What should you use instead? Easy: rent furniture pads to cover up your sofa and loveseat. A lot of moving companies even provide furniture pads for free.
St. Patrick’s Day only happens once a year. But with a little effort and creativity on your move, you can be green all year round.