With millions of
us moving each year and the amount
of household waste on the rise, it
makes sense to try to keep waste to
a minimum when it comes time to move.
About 120 million Americans who were
five years old and over in 2000 --
46 percent of us -- lived in a different
home than they did in 1995, according
to a report released last month by
the U.S. Census Bureau.
Twenty-five percent moved within
the same county, ten percent between
counties in the same state, eight
percent between states, and three
percent had moved here from abroad.
Meanwhile, some 1,580 pounds of waste
is generated per person per year,
according to a 1997 study by the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency and
the Census Bureau.
Most of that waste -- 602 pounds
-- is in the form of paper and paperboard.
Another 149 pounds is derived from
plastics; 58 in textiles; and 82 in
In 1999, recycling and composting
activities kept about 64 million tons
of material from ending up in landfills
and incinerators. Today Americans
recycle 28 percent of our waste --
a rate that has almost doubled during
the past 15 years.
Although nearly 30 percent of municipal
waste is reportedly recycled, America
is generation an increasing amount
of waste every year, growing from
247 million tons of non-hazardous
waste in 1990 to 409 million tons
in 2001, according to Biocycle Magazine,
an industry publication.
While recycling has grown in general,
recycling of specific materials has
grown even more drastically. The EPA
says: 42 percent of all paper, 40
percent of all plastic soft drink
bottles, 55 percent of all aluminum
beer and soft drink cans, 57 percent
of all steel packaging, and 52 percent
of all major appliances are now recycled.
Aiming to keep improving the recycling
statistics, EPA has a handful of tips
to help you reduce waste if you'll
be moving to a new house anytime soon.
- Try not to buy new boxes -- start
saving boxes beforehand. Check with
local businesses for any leftover
boxes. Also ask any new neighbors
who have recently moved in.
- If you're not able to scrounge
up old boxes, go with corrugated
boxes with the highest recycled
content you can find.
- Pack your clothes, linens, and
other items in suitcases or duffel
bags that you already own.
- Recycle your boxes once you're
unpacked and moved in.
- Check with your moving company
about renting reusable storage crates.
These boxes last about 10 years
and can then be recycled.
- Use old newspapers to wrap your
- Consider using environmentally
preferable packing materials like
cushioning peanuts made of biodegradable
cornstarch and bubble wrap containing
post-consumer recycled plastic.
Recycle or reuse these materials
once you're done with them.
- Be sure you properly dispose
of non-recyclable hazardous materials
before you move. This would include
household cleaners, paints, automotive
supplies, and other items that require
special disposal. Check with your
waste company or local government
to see if they offer drop-off locations.
- Use recycled latex paint for
household projects when it's appropriate.
- Have a yard sale before you move
to lighten your load. Sell clothes
that don't fit anymore, as well
as any toys, appliances, books and
any other items you don't want to
- Donate any leftover items to
Once you move into your new house,
find out if your new community has
a recycling program. If so, participate
by separating and putting out your
recyclables for curbside pickup or
taking them to your local drop-off
or buy-back center.
The EPA also says you can shop smarter.
Use products in containers that can
be recycled in your community and
items that can be repaired or reused.
Also, support recycling markets by
buying and using products made from