10 Green Storage Solutions
So many people are moving and downsizing these days. I hate to see families hauling huge rolls of bubble wrap and piles of cardboard boxes into their homes to get ready for a move. Most of that stuff just gets thrown away after the move -- or it has to be stored with everything else, in many cases being kept warm or cool in a climate-controlled storage environment. To me, that's unnecessary waste. If you get creative, there are ways to avoid using so much processed packing material -- and to minimize the resources that are used in storage. Here are my top ten green storage solutions:
1. Use the smallest storage space possible.
Storing things in a small space is a matter of taking the time to plan and pack carefully. Nest objects inside each other if you can. Roll soft items. Get rid of things that you don't need to keep.
2. Use the greenest storage option availble.
All self storage facilities are somewhat green, as most are made out of recycled steel. But some facilities generate their own electricity with solar panels, or use geothermal cooling. Some offer ordinary recycling, while others also offer e-waste recycling. If you are storing items at home, see what you can do to reduce energy use involved in storage -- for example, cut off heat to rooms that are used only for storage (if you are storing things that do not require climate control).
3. Don't buy shock absorbent packing materials.
Even if they are made out of recycled or sustainable substances, no matter what packing material you buy, it is likely to have been shipped using fossil fuels, and processed industrially. Instead, make your own shock absorbers out of other items that you are storing anyway. Use clothing or pillows to cushion fragile items. Or shred your recyclable documents and use the shredding as a cushion.
4. Nest small, fragile items inside oven mitts.
An oven mitt is almost like a bubble-wrapped envelope -- it is so full of padding.
5. Mine your sock drawer.
Pairs of socks (use pairs to keep them together) can be used to cushion drinking glasses, knick-knacks, jewelry -- any small item that need a uniform soft surface to be stretched over it.
6. Pack plates and bowls between layers made out of hand towels and washcloths.
In a pinch, you can use large towels, but be careful to remember that you used large towels later, when you are unpacking. You wouldn't want to grab the edge of a towel, yank it out of a box, and have several plates come flying out with it!
7. Use sweater sleeves and sweatpant legs as cushioning materials.
You may want to use this technique more with older sweaters, sweatshirts, and sweatpants. If you tie knots in the sleeves, or in pant legs, you can use these items as cushions around round objects, such as ceramic mugs.
8. Use egg cartons, wine cartons, and drink carriers, as packing materials.
If you have some time before your move, start saving items that can be used as packing materials. Egg cartons are wonderful for storing small fragile items -- or for using as packing material around larger items. Likewise, the cardboard inserts from wine boxes can be used to separate and cushion items in a box, preventing fragile items from being knocked against each other during a move.
9. Use your closet organizers to organize your boxes.
If you are packing organizers from a closet -- or even from drawers or cupboards -- give those organizers double duty by using them to organize your boxes as well. While they may not be soft, they can serve as a frame around which you can wrap soft materials, such as towels.
10. If you are not mailing boxes, skip the tape.
Don't get carried away and do more than you need to. If the boxes are just being moved across town, and they are staying closed perfectly well, there is no need to waste tape by sealing them as if they were being sent through the mail. If your boxes are being sent through the mail, however, seal them very carefully using U.S. postal standards as your guideline.
You can probably come up with many more ideas that I have not thought of. As you can see, the key is to think creatively. Challenge yourself -- see if you can manage to get through an entire move without buying packing materials. Then write about what you did, so others can follow your green example!
Art Decker is a division manager with Self Storage Company, which operates a group of websites, including a Florida self-storage locator. Art is currently leading a green initiative within his company, called "Make Yourself Green," which is focused on promoting green practices within the self storage industry.
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