Zero Waste Moving (or at least as close to it as possible)

We have recently made the move from Sydney to Brisbane after having lived on Sydney’s beautiful Northern Beaches for the last 12 years.

Why would we swap Sydney for Brisbane, you ask?

We are finding that Sydney, including the Northern Beaches, is becoming too busy and populated, traffic congestion is pretty bad and properties (both to buy and to rent) are ridiculously expensive.

Moving is never really fun and often wasteful due to all the packaging used, but you can reduce the waste if you are prepared and re-use what you have.

We decided to do the move ourselves, first of all it was a lot cheaper than using a moving company and, secondly because we could decide how we packed everything.

Moving boxes

Moving iBoxesWe collected boxes from shops we know well (a music store, the Manly Food Co-Op and Harvey Norman) as I don’t see a point of buying new boxes. These shops would have just recycled them, so better to re-use them for a move. We will keep them for our next move, so they will get used over and over again.

If there are no shops around you that give out boxes, why not ask in your local Facebook group or friends and family for boxes? You’ll often get them for free and others will be happy to get rid of them.


As you can see we used plastic sticky tape because we already had it at home. There is no point of throwing something away that you already have as a lot of resources have already gone into producing it. Sticky tape is not great though as it can’t be recycled, but if you use it wisely it will last you a while. We had to tape the boxes shut, because they are going to be in storage for a while and we didn’t want any bugs do get in. A better way would be to just fold over the 4 sides to close the boxes on top which saves you from using more tape.

If you don’t have any tape at home, you could use twine or any length of rope lying around. If you need to buy something, go for a paper based tape that can be recycled like this one.

Packing Material

Packing MaterialI have kept what we had from previous moves. That includes bubble wrap, plastic sheets, shredded paper, original cartons like the ones our wine glasses came in, and old newspapers. Apart from adding additional newspapers (we are getting a free bi-weekly local newspaper), we did not have to buy or get any other material. I also keep all kinds of wrapping paper I get from flowers, friends etc.

Larger furniture like our bed head, we protected with blankets we already had.

In preparation for move day

Try and find new owners for items you no longer need. Moving is the perfect time to sort through everything you have and reduce to only what you really need. We decided to move as light as possible to reduce effort and cost and also because some items might not have survived the move (like our 10 year old fridge). Only keep items that you like (or that ‘spark joy’) and mindfully find new homes for the other items.

We were lucky as the new tenant was keen on taking our fridge, our washing machine (which would have been a nightmare to get out of a corner cupboard, lifting it over the top of the vanity), our 12 year old sofa and some outdoor furniture. Lucky!

Otherwise we’d have put it on Gumtree and/or a Buy/Sell/Swap Facebook Group and I am sure we would have found a good home for these items.

Moving help

We are blessed with great friends who don’t mind lifting and carrying and are keen to help. We managed to get everything packed into the truck within 90 minutes with only the two of us and two strong friends. Not bad. A professional mover wouldn’t have done it much quicker than that.

Cleaning the apartment

We only used natural cleaners as we always do and as long as you keep things tidy while living there, you won’t need strong chemicals. I mostly used warm soapy water with a little bicarb (even on the oven and oven doors it worked a treat) and white vinegar (i.e. for the toilet or persistent stains around the sink).

Our rags are old cut up t-shirts – and socks. 😉 And for scrubbing I use coconut fibre scrubs which can all be composted at the end of their lives.

The move

We rented a truck from Budget which we got for a really good price. Most moving companies fill a container which they then ship via train and deliver via truck to its final destination. Without having calculated the carbon foot print, I believe that this method might have a slightly lower foot print than driving yourself, but the extra cost would not have justified that (and we had to drive our car up anyway).

So my partner drove the truck and I our car. We made it up to Byron Bay on the first day and stayed at our favourite camp ground in town, sleeping in our tent.

The next morning we drove the final 2.5 hours to our interim destination in the northern suburbs of Brisbane.


We unloaded again with the help of friends in little time and have stored our things with them while we are house sitting for the next few weeks and looking for a permanent place to rent. Everything is securely stored in the space underneath their rented Queenslander style home. Again, we were lucky we had that option. Otherwise we would have put everything into paid storage. Let’s just hope everything stays dry and bug free. 🙂

So, all in all, it has been a painless move (so far), with as little waste as possible and quite economical, too.

Zero Waste Living requires a bit more time and preparation, but it is so worth it – so much better for our planet, ourselves and our finances.

What are your zero waste moving tips?


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