Why I Ditched My Old Mattress When I Moved (and What I Replaced It With)

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I’ve moved a handful of times in my life, and the process has been so stressful that it’s turned me into a big “furniture-phobe”.

Show me anything that’s over 35 pounds and bigger than your average doorway, and I’ll want nothing to do with it. Maybe you’re now picturing a home space with a stack of floor pillows as a couch, but thanks to the Magic of Tidying Up and other related, minimalist movements, I actually have plenty of options to satisfy my furniture phobia.

But then there’s the matter of mattresses.

With my most recent move (where I had to quickly leave a poorly managed, bed-bugged apartment complex for the sake of my sanity), moving my mattress is something I ironically lost sleep over. I mean, there’s not really much you can do to a mattress to make it weigh less and be easy to move, right?

Cool Mattress Alternatives

I recently caught wind of the mattress-in-a-box fad, which of course appealed to me since it didn’t require any kind of moving and jigsaw-puzzling a mattress through nooks and crannies. After consulting countless reviews, an article from Good Housekeeping had me seriously considering mattresses from Tuft & Needle, Purple and Casper. I eventually gravitated to Casper’s offerings when I read they had budget-friendly versions, as well as the fact that they “…donate or recycle your new mattress, and even arrange for the pickup so you don’t have to,” if you’re not sold after a trial period.

They had three different memory foam mattresses, ranging from $600 all the way to $1,850 (the kind with all the bells and whistles). I had my eye set on the more budget-friendly one.

But even as budget-friendly as it claims to be, I was tight on funds, and I’m not exactly someone who can afford to just buy expensive stuff on a whim. I needed a lot more data that suggested this thing really was worth it. You know, so I could sleep better at night.

The Research

While the bedbug scare was technically only partly (half?) why I wanted to leave my old mattress behind, it actually wasn’t the only reason.

I knew for way cheaper I technically could get one of those mattress cover protectors and call it a day. But after I started doing research, I found that according to the National Sleep Foundation, your mattress should go after about eight years.

“The best way to tell if your mattress has seen its day is to evaluate your comfort and sleep quality,” they say. Things to look for include:

  • Worn or sagging spots in the middle or around the edges
  • Waking up tired and stiff
  • Noticing when your bed partner moves

These are the biggest (though not the only) signs that you need to break up with your mattress.

I feel like most people these days aren’t getting good sleep, and it can’t all be about the mattress. But in terms of adding another reason to ditch my hand-me-down mattress that had been through who-knows-what, this was a wake-up call. (Ha.)

I also came across a study conducted in 2009 that compared sleep quality and stress-related symptoms between older beds (five years or older) and newer ones. I’ll spare everyone the intricate details, but the subjects of the study documented back discomfort and overall sleep quality for 28 days on their current mattress, average 9.5 years old, and then repeated that process on a new bedding system.

Ultimately, the study concluded that “new bedding systems increased sleep quality and reduced back discomfort, factors that may be related to abatement of stress-related symptoms.”

As someone who suffers from chronic stress, anxiety and back and neck pain, that message got through to me. I decided to invest in a new mattress.

The Ditching

Okay, so a new mattress was on its way to me and I now had to figure out how to get rid of my current one in a way that wouldn’t equate to the stress of moving it into my new place.

It turns out that disposing of a mattress is kind of a “thing”.

In fact, according to CascadeAlliance, an environmental non-profit, there are more than 20 million mattresses each year that go into a landfill in America, which equates to roughly 55,000 a day. Whoa!

Mattresses contribute to 450 million pounds of waste and fill more than 100 million cubic feet of landfill space each year. They also contain non-biodegradable synthetic foam and fibers, plus hazardous flame retardant chemicals, which can leach into drinking water.

These were all things that would definitely weigh on my conscience if I were to contribute to them. Thankfully, there are solutions to this problem and a variety of ways to responsibly get rid of a mattress.

Drop Off

Charitable organizations like Goodwill and Salvation Army happily accept mattress donations. There are also likely many other local institutions, such as homeless shelters and churches, who would be more than willing to accept a mattress donation or point you in the direction of someone in need.

Use this database to look for the closest place to donate your mattress.

Recycle

Earth911 and Bye-Bye Mattress are two more organizations that will help you dispose of your mattress, but by means of recycling. Some states, Connecticut being the first, now have mattress recycling laws. There are also other mattress disposal professionals you can look up and use locally, usually with a fee.

Given the, well, “beastie” situation I was getting out of, I opted to recycle mine through IKEA’s newly-launched mattress recycling initiative that helps take care of the problem. (It’s $25, except in California where it’s free. I just took it to the store.) But no matter where you live, you can easily find a recycler near you.

Now I’ve taken care of my body, my budget, and the environment, all in one! Hopefully, I’ve shed some light on the hardest parts of the mattress buying journey so you can comfortably go mattress shopping with way less to learn that I did.


Alyse B. is a social media strategist from New York. She loves curating social profiles and the entire creative process that makes an Instagram or Snapchat campaign successful. Outside of the keyboards and screens, she enjoys yoga, spin classes, creative writing and lengthy urban strolls with her dog exploring new cities.

Movehacks: How to Unpack and Organize Before, During and After You Open a Box

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Some people tell us unpacking is the most enjoyable part of their move. (“It’s like Christmas!” they say.) Others dread unpacking like nothing else in the world. (“It’s worse than a triple root canal!” they cry.)

Either way, unpacking can quickly turn your new home into an ocean of cardboard and newsprint. To make the process more manageable – dare we say more enjoyable? – here are some industry tips for getting your unpack off to a raging start.

What to Do Before the Unpack

Yeah, you gotta clean before you unpack 

You might not want to hear this right off the bat, but be prepared to clean before you begin to unpack. Even if it’s just wiping the shelves and countertops and giving the floors a quick sweep, unpacking in a clean home is infinitely more pleasant than unpacking in a dusty one. These items definitely take priority when it comes to cleaning:

  • Kitchen cabinets
  • Refridgerator
  • Bathtub and bathtub jets
  • Stove
  • Inside the washing machine

For more a more in-depth look at the how and why for house prep, check out this post.

Don’t unpack from down on the ground, clear some counter space

In the kitchen or dining room, do whatever you need to do so you can get your boxes up high. Why? Because you’ll need that counter space to place boxes on before you carry your things around your new place.

Why on a shelf? Because if you unpack from the place you dropped down that heavy box, you’re going to feel it in your lower back the next day. And week. Trust me, unpack up high. Always.

Unpack to shower and sleep first

No one in the history of unpacking has ever unpacked in one day. Unless you think you can be the first, don’t wait to unpack your bedding, set up your bed, hang your shower curtain and dig out what you need to feel clean and refreshed after a long day (or week? or month?) of moving.

Protip: Yes, this involves a little foresight when packing. Mark the boxes that contain the things you want to access first. (This may also include real plates, glasses and utensils to make you feel more at home when you sit down for dinner that first evening.)

What to Do During the Unpack

Unpack the “easy” boxes first to make room 

It takes almost no time to unpack your books and stick them on the shelves of your bookcase. In a matter of minutes, you can transfer your t-shirts and jeans from boxes to dresser drawers. And for goodness sake, get those massive and bulky wardrobe boxes unpacked and out of the house!

Go about halfway with the pictures 

Unpacking large pictures, mirrors and paintings is also quick, and you can then get rid of those bulky mirror cartons. Some folks, however, suggest hanging your pictures up early on to give your new place that homey feel. I say lean them up in a corner somewhere until you get all your furniture in place. Later on, you can do the “a little to the right…a little more…no back left…no not that much…okay there, no, a shade higher…yeah, that’s perfect” thing.

Make a quota of boxes unpacked per day and stick to it

If you are the motivated type, feel free to skip this tip. If you are easily distracted and tend to put things off, you might find it helpful to …. Hey, are you listening? …  set goals for yourself. Commit to unpacking one room per day, six boxes per hour, whatever. And reward yourself for sticking to your plan by going out afterward. Just remember how satisfying it will be when you’re all finished. 

Repack what you don’t actually need for storage

As you empty your boxes, set aside those items you decide you won’t need right away – or for a long time. Keep a few of those now-empty boxes handy and consolidate those items you put aside for quick transfer to the basement, the attic or the back of your closet.

Protip: Just as you did when you first packed, write the contents of each box with a marker as you go through your consolidation.

Don’t unpack the TV

The ultimate distractor. Do unpack the tunes, though. 

Purge. Again

We suggest purging while unpacking. On move after move, it’s common to see people wait for weeks (or months) for the family’s stuff to arrive. Living without most of their stuff, they often realize that so many things were unnecessary. And while packing stuff in a box allows you to forget about it, having to unpack it and find a place for it helps you decide whether you really need it. As with the stuff you’ll be storing in the attic or the basement, set up a box or two for these things you’ve decided to part with.

What to Do After the Unpack

Hide your paper trail

Keep a couple of medium-sized boxes on hand, and use them to stash all the packing paper that would otherwise turn the floors of your new home into a churning sea of crumpled newsprint. Flattening and folding all that paper will save a lot of space – if you have the time and patience – but doing so also helps you find smaller items that can go unnoticed and disappear forever. I can’t count how many times a customer dropped their used moving boxes off at our warehouse with items still buried in the packing paper inside.

Protip: Packing a large box with flattened paper can make it surprisingly heavy. Medium boxes are more manageable in this respect.

Now, about getting rid of all those boxes…

First, get them out of your way. The garage – if you have one and there’s room – is the obvious choice. (Think twice before stashing them in the basement “temporarily”.) If the weather is good and it feels appropriate, start breaking down your empty boxes and putting them out by the curb. Unless your new home is on a cul-de-sac it may not be long before you see passer-by stop and take those boxes off your hands. If this doesn’t work, here are three ideas that don’t require a box-hungry passerby.

  • If you have the time, the storage space and the mental fortitude try passing on your boxes to someone else who is getting ready to move. Facebook groups and Craigslist are two widely-used resources for advertising moving boxes for sale or for free.
  • Some moving companies will be happy to take your boxes and your packing paper off your hands. If none of the smaller local movers will take them, check for national van line agencies in your area (like United, North American, Atlas and Allied). The agencies I worked for never bought used boxes from people, but we were always happy to take them if they were in decent shape. 
  • Recycle if you can’t find someone who will reuse them.

Unpacking can prove a more formidable task than expected. Whether you think it’ll be like Christmas or a root canal, putting these tips into practice will help you feel at home faster.

Then you can sit back and watch the TV.

Every Place You Can Get Free Moving Boxes

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People say there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Well, how about a free box? We hear a lot about those, but where are they?

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Save Green/Go Green: 5 Moving Hacks That Do Both

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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.

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What Pantone’s 2017 Color of the Year Can Look Like in Your Home

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Not only would it be festive to incorporate more green into your home for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day festivities, but Pantone named green as their color of the year for 2017. Bold choice! This bright green hue oozes freshness, brings the outdoors in, and as Pantone states, “[Is a] refreshing and revitalizing shade and symbolic of new beginnings.”

It’s a smart choice too; Injecting a pop of green into your space will ensure that your home is ready for the holiday, sure, but you’ll also get those staying up-to-date vibes. Look at you go!If you’re interested in bringing a sense of outdoors inside, or maybe you’re just looking to refresh your space, we’ve got six tangible ways to stay on-trend by adding green to your space.

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Do You Donate Your Old Appliances? You Should. Here Are the 3 Easiest Ways

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It all happened when we got new appliances for our kitchen. Never had I been more excited for a refrigerator, stove and dishwasher. The day our kitchen appliances were delivered, I eagerly ran home from work to check out my new beauties.

Then it happened. Yep, it’s official.

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Recycle Books (Do It.)

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[Synopsis: Here are some cool ideas for recycling and redistributing a customer’s unwanted books.]

We hear a lot about moving companies donating unwanted food to Move 4 Hunger. This is a great thing, and sadly necessary here in this wealthy nation where millions go to bed hungry every night.

But some customers want to empty more than their fridge by the time they move. It’s quite common for customers to want to clear off their bookshelves too. Is this another area where movers can help? You bet.

Earlier this year Mastodon Movers of Massachusetts teamed up with a few local schools to conduct a book drive, with over 3,500 books donated to More Than Words, a non-profit whose aim is to assist and empower disadvantaged young people.

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Mastodon Movers’ plan was simple: distribute boxes to schools, pick them up when they were full and pass them on to More Than Words. (There was probably a little more to it than that, but really, providing a service for a good cause really can be that simple.)

These books were apparently collected from people who were not preparing to move. Nevertheless, this made us think: Why not collect books and magazines our customers don’t want – or don’t want to have to move – and pass them on? Using just an ounce of discretion (some books really are too old!), bring them to the library, to an organization like More Than Words, or to one of the places listed in this helpful piece by HomeStorageSolutions101

This should be common practice for all movers who come across unwanted books.

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If you have a bit of space, you could even set up a small bookcase in your workspace to collect all the extra books. When you amass enough, clear the bookshelves and start anew after a nice, fresh donation. Neat, huh?

Moving almost always means trash, but remember that trash is often just a matter of perspective.

So What Do You Do With An Old Mattress?

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old-mattressWhen you’re in moving mode, you’re bound to have some items that you don’t want to bring over to the new pad. At some point, this might be an old mattress. Perhaps you’re downsizing, moving in with someone who already has a fancy new mattress, or you want to upgrade your own bed…whatever it may be, you’ll need to figure out what to do with your old mattress. (more…)

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