The 5 R’s of an Eco-friendly Move

Jun 21, 2021

If you’ve ever moved then the visual of an overflowing trash bin, and sneaking trash into your neighbors’ bins in the middle of the night, probably hits close to home. Luckily there is a way to avoid this scenario by using the 5 R’s to have an eco-friendly move.

What Are The 5 R’s?

Think of the 5 R’s as the completed version to the 3 R’s that many of us grow up hearing about. Reduce, reuse, and recycle each go a long way – only by adding in two more steps, we can get a more complete picture of how to live as close to a eco-friendly lifestyle as possible. Refuse & Rot.

What Is An Eco-Friendly Move?

Eco-friendly is just what it sounds like – living and moving that doesn’t contribute to harming the environment. Each time you head out to the store and bring home groceries or new clothes, do you end up with new things to throw away? An eco-friendly lifestyle forces each of us to look at ourselves and ask how we can minimize our own creation of trash.

How Do You Use The 5 R’s For an Eco-Friendly Move

While using these to create an eco-friendly lifestyle in general, let’s look at how they can help us to create a eco-friendly move.


As soon as you know you have a move coming up, exercise this first step: Refuse.

Refuse, Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, and Rot
Refuse what you don’t need.

Refuse to take home anything that will become trash. Minimize what you’re taking home, so that you’ll minimize what will have to be thrown away. This step looks different for everyone – it just depends on how you live. You can cut out fast food trips; eliminating waste brought into your home. This is your first line of defense because these items often come wrapped in throw-away paper/cardboard containers that can’t be recycled or reused.

Don’t allow yourself to become pressured to take home other people’s trash that’s “still good.” That may mean you have to refuse “in the family” items if you don’t already have a use for them – or avoid coming up with an excuse to take them.


Next step is to find ways to reuse what you already have.

Did you know that leftover coffee grounds can be used as a natural bug repellant in your garden due to the naturally occurring caffeine levels? That’s right! Sprinkle your leftover ground in potted plants and around your house – instead of throwing them away.

My favorite trick has been to keep all the boxes my larger items come in when bought. For the holiday season, I’ve wrapped these in paper to decorate under the tree. As a bonus, I’ve kept to a very “old fashion” style by reusing leftover U-Haul Packing Paper. This means that by the time I’m ready to move apartments I can unwrap these boxes and reuse them – and I can even reuse the Packing Paper!

Reuse empty boxes and packing paper for decor.
Find ways to reuse items around your home instead of throwing them away,

Have you heard of U-Haul’s Take A Box, Leave A Box program? Customers can leave gently used moving boxes at a company owned store for other customers to take for free! U-Haul customers reuse nearly 1 million boxes a year in this program reducing the need to produce new boxes.


3 out of the the 5 R's isn't bad at all! Use Ready-To-Go Boxes to help get you closer to a zero waste move.
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Ready-To-Go Boxes help to reduce the number of supplies you need. They can be reused by you and by others in future moves. These boxes can also be recycled instead of being tossed like other supplies. 3 out of the 5 R’s – not bad at all!

Reduce what you can. Moving supplies are absolutely necessary when moving – but this doesn’t have to mean your supplies will sit in a landfill forever. U-Haul offers products made from sustainable resources to reduce waste.

Biodegradable Packing Peanuts are made from potato starch and corn starch. These are an excellent substitute to the traditional polystyrene (Styrofoam) peanuts which can sit in landfills for 500 years – and some experts believe they never break down! U-Haul’s solution is peanuts that can degrade and dissolve in water. Take that landfills!

Ready-To-Go Boxes are an option for anyone looking to reduce the amount of moving supplies that comes into the home. They’re ideal for a small city move, or when you’re moving a short distance. These boxes are made of recyclable plastic with a lid – eliminating the need for tape and scissors. You just order as many as you need, then return them to the same Center where you picked them up from when you’re done!


This is one of the most popular of the 5 R’s but also one of the least exercised. U-Haul makes several great moving supplies out of recycled materials. Use these recycled materials in your move, you’re doing your part to cut down on the waste that’s produced each year.

Furniture Pads are made from recycled denim. Bonus: these are colorfast meaning the color won’t bleed onto your belongings!

To help reach the goal of a zero waste move, U-Haul uses the regenerated cotton scraps allows the annual diversion of 2.4 million pounds of recyclable materials from landfills.
U-Haul uses the regenerated cotton scraps to allow the annual diversion of 2.4 million pounds of recyclable materials from landfills.

Did you know U-Haul has a 100% Buyback Guarantee? This allows you to return any moving boxes that you don’t use. It’s a great alternative to throwing unused boxes away and means that someone else can now use the boxes for their move.

Sustainable Moving
Don’t toss what you don’t use. At U-Haul, you can have your unused boxed bought back.


Rot. The final step can help to eliminate some of the final things you have hanging around your home. For this, we recommend using a composting bin. Toss your leftover bits of food into the bin – this will later be used outside in the garden. Not everyone has this, but there are local community gardens that may accept donations for their compost. There are also some affordable options on the market that you can use at your new home!

Using Ready-To-Go Boxes for a local move will help to limit the number of supplies you need to purchase. Saving you money and helping the planet. Combined with the above tips, you can get as close to an eco-friendly move as possible.

It goes without saying that no move is perfect. Using U-Haul’s eco-friendly products and these other easy-to-follow tips to be reduce waste will encourage new habits and help mitigate your carbon footprint.


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