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Eco-friendly options for renters and owners preparing for a move

Move-in day doesn't have to create piles of trash on the sidewalk.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

In Boston, Sept. 1 brings about moves all across the city and can also produce a lot of single-use waste and junk. From abandoned furniture on the sidewalk to piles of cardboard boxes, it’s easy to throw things away without a thought. However, there are many eco-friendly options that can assure movers about where their stuff ends up. Here are some ideas to clean up your next move.

Consider renting boxes.

Business partners Doran Donovan and Paul Benoit founded Woburn-based Box Save, which rents out reusable moving crates that are used until the end of their lifespan and then recycled.


The crates are midsized, snap shut, and have built-in handles for easy lifting. Rentals are offered on a week-by-week basis, with prices starting at 20 boxes for $99 for two weeks, which includes one dolly, labels, and the option to extend the lease for $12 per week. Box Save handles pickup and delivery and the crates are sanitized between each use.

“Our biggest competitor is cardboard, and people don’t know there’s an alternative. Once people get their head around it, it’s a no brainer,” Donovan said in a phone interview.

In the first six years of business, Box Save said they have rented more than 120,000 boxes to moving people and businesses, which has prevented 88 tons of single-use cardboard from entering the waste stream.

A reusable moving crate from Box Save, a local company that rents out plastic moving boxes.Joseph P. Murphy

Use items you already have at home instead of buying packing materials.

Donovan also recognizes some people may still use cardboard boxes in the moving process, but recommends reusing whatever they have from home or can find from businesses instead of purchasing more. For example, using towels or bedding to wrap delicate items instead of bubble wrap.

Explore donation options before throwing things away.

Some junk removal services will dispose of excess waste and used goods in an environmentally friendly way. College H.U.N.K.S Hauling Junk & Moving — which has locations in Boston South, Foxborough, and Chelmsford — says they donate or recycle up to 70 percent of furniture, appliances, mattresses, and other items removed from properties.


Items that are in good, working condition are donated to charity shop locations, like Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Other items or electronics they are unable to donate, they take to recycling centers in the area. Pricing is based off volume, but starts at $149 for less than 1/8 of a truckload.

If you’d like to discard items yourself, many secondhand shops and drop-off centers have re-opened for donations — but be sure to check their websites or call for up-to-date COVID-19 protocols and guidelines. And don’t forget: donating or selling old items to friends and family can also ease the load — or, ask the renters moving into your old space if they would like to purchase or have items you want to leave behind.

Buy secondhand.

Another sustainable tip following the moving process is purchasing furniture secondhand instead of buying a brand new inventory. Neighborhood-based platforms like Facebook Marketplace, NextDoor, and Offerup allow users to shop locally for items they need.

Start planning all aspects of your move early

Preparation is key when it comes to moving sustainably and that isn’t limited to packing and donations. Remember to plan ahead to reduce unnecessary waste, advised Cameron Bruns, founder of the Boston Green Blog, where she shared sustainability tips and resources for seven years. “If you are doing a planned move, then get started as far ahead of time as you can,” she said. “That’ll give you more time to find the most responsible place to send your stuff.”


Bruns is currently planning a move back to Boston from Dublin and found preparation is key when it comes to moving sustainably. For example: taking the time to create those donation piles before you pack and properly estimating the heft of your belongings since the end result may not warrant renting a moving truck. And don’t forget, she said, to be aware of food waste and clean out fridges early. Though it is important to push companies to be green, individual actions still make an impact, Bruns said.

Riana Buchman can be reached at riana.buchman@globe.com.