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Each time I unpack from a PCS, I cringe. All. That. Packing. Paper. I wonder how many trees died so that my glass bottle of paprika would arrive in one piece. (Is it really necessary to wrap pack every single bottle in my spice rack? Even the plastic ones?)
Yes, I offer up my cardboard boxes on Craigslist and Freecycle after my children have used them as trains and tunnels. Yes, I recycle 90 percent of the packing paper and shouted obscenities at my trash man if he tries to combine it with the landfill waste. The other 10 percent of packing paper is flattened smoothly while I binge-watch How I Met Your Mother so that my little ones can use it for wrapping paper for neighbor birthday parties and welcome signs for our guests.
Yet, I can’t help but feel like I should be doing more.
I should make my next PCS a little more lean, a little more green and a whole lot more Earth-friendly. Do you feel the same way?
I turned to my favorite granola-crunchin’ group, our NextGen MilSpouse readers, for suggestions. The answers had me smacking my head saying “Why didn’t I think of that?” Their tips are easy and smart. Like Earth-saving smart.
7 Smart Ways You Can Make Your Next PCS a Lean and Green PCS
Use towels, blankets, bedding, linens, decorative pillows, stuffed animals and out of season clothing as packing material.
Genius. One reader said she piles all this stuff together so that it’s accessible to the packers when they need to wrap an item. Finally a purpose for those very-thoughtful-but-not-so-useful hand stitched quilts from Great Grandma. (No need to snuggle under a blanket in the 115-degree heat of Arizona.)
Forget the packing paper. Wrap that vase in a Elsa bath towel instead.
If you don’t think the packers will use this fabric instead of packing paper, don’t be afraid to pack as much stuff as possible using these green materials prior to your pack-out date. In my experience the moving company will simply note on their inventory that these boxes were packed by the customer.
Compost your packing paper. Yes, you can.
Invest in long-lasting reusable storage totes.
Don’t let the movers repack these items. Again, it’s as simple as verbally agreeing that you pack these items yourself. Later you can admire your organizational skills when these storage totes are stacked neatly in your garage.
Get creative. Reuse other containers to pack items for your PCS.
If you want to pack some smaller items, you could buy plastic containers specifically for this purpose. OR if you want to be a lean and green (and like my mother), you could wash out those empty Country Crock containers and creatively give them a second life. Simply scrub out that 45-ounce container and use it to contain small items.
For example, my daughters have a whole colony of My Littlest Pet Shop creatures. If I don’t consolidate them into a central moving vehicle (like a Country Crock container), the packers (bless their hearts) will individually wrap each tiny kitty, frog and fox in packing paper. Then with all that paper, it’s more likely that these tiny toys will get lost in the rapid upacking process too. Unite any small items (think measuring spoons, hair accessories, rock collections, etc.) to save time and packing materials during your pack-out.
Be a cardboard do-gooder; give away those boxes.
Post a “100 Free Moving Boxes to the First Person” message on your base’s spouse Facebook group. It will be your cardboard box good deed of the day. You can also donate them to Goodwill and any local thrift store (think Airman’s Attic) that may be able to reuse these boxes.
Another option is to donate the packing materials to a local business that ships goods. Or better yet, donate them to a local milspouse-owned company that ships her goods around the world. Your neighbor has an Etsy shop? She needs boxes. Your green choice could save her business some serious green.
Save the paper and reuse those boxes.
Now I admit that I don’t have the space to do this, but if I was living in a large home for a short period of time, I would definitely try it. And if I was a DITY PCS’er, I would DEFINITELY try to do this.
Downsize. Sell, donate and purge, baby, purge.
Having less can save you money and the Earth. Fewer household goods means less packing paper, fewer boxes and less weight on the moving truck. This is one of my favorite tips. One Facebook reader wrote “You can fit in a smaller home saving rent/mortgage (if) you have less ‘stuff’ to pack. You may be more comfortable doing a DITY(or partial DITY) if you own less. There is something to be said for the minimalist movement.”
There’s also something to be said for a minimalist military family move.