Eco Storage Solutions

Wardrobe on the tilt - seen at the Ghent Design Museum

Here's a guest article on eco storage from someone who should know - a professional storage manager.

These simple green storage tips should both save you money and keep your packing as low-carbon and eco-friendly as possible. Moving house does not need to be a nightmare if you use some of these simple tips to pack your goods. These are also useful ideas if you are just packing things away for the winter, or while you paint a room.

Article thanks to Art Decker of the Self Storage Company, Washington.

Picture: Moving house can be a hassle! (Wardrobe on the tilt - seen at the Ghent Design Museum)

10 Green Storage Solutions

I've noticed lately that some of the most environmentally-conscious people are the ones who have never given a moment's thought to being eco-friendly.

They're the people who simply are trying to live frugally -- but living frugally goes hand in hand with reusing everything that you can.

Here are ten eco storage solutions that I've picked up from watching self storage tenants get creative about finding ways to resist the recession:

  1. Minimize use of packing materials as "filler." The purpose of filler is to absorb shocks during a move and to prevent the contents of a box from shifting. But it isn't necessary to use styrofoam to do that. You can use soft items that you have around the house. For example, several tenants have told me that they cushioned their computers and printers for a move by packing pillows in the box around them.
  2. Roll nylons and store them inside jewelry boxes. The contents of a jewelry box can shift during a move, too. You can't put a pillow inside your jewelry box -- but, believe it or not, a young student told me that you can roll up nylon pantyhose into tiny tubes and nestle the tubes into a jewelry box to protect both nylons and jewelry (she was careful not to use this technique for storing earrings, which could snag nylons).
  3. Store light fluffy objects inside furniture drawers. In general, it's a good idea to empty your dresser drawers and desk drawers before a move -- it makes furniture, which is heavy enough as it is, a little easier to move. But it's not so bad to have light items inside drawers. Try storing extra pillows in drawers, or use them to hold a child's stuffed animal collection.
  4. Take apart furniture before storing it. Then lay the pieces down flat (you may want to put a rug or blanket under them first). You will find that your furniture takes up much less space this way.
  5. Reuse glass and plastic food jars. Jars are especially useful for storing hardware from furniture that you've taken apart for a move or for storage. Nothing is more frustrating than being ready to put furniture back together and not being sure what screws and nuts go with what item. Put the hardware from each piece in its own jar (baby food jars often work especially well) and label the jars with a permanent marker.
  6. Challenge yourself not to purchase any boxes to move.You can often find boxes to use for storage at grocery stores and department stores, especially if you call ahead to ask what days boxes will be put out. Better yet, try to use "boxes" you already have such as shoeboxes, suitcases and if you are helping with the move, why not keep clothes in the drawers to move them instead of packing them up to put them back in the same place.
  7. Make a shock absorber from something disposable. If you are throwing out old papers and documents, shred them, and use them as packing material. Alternatively, if you are throwing out old clothes, use them to wrap plates and dishes, or tear them into strips, tie the strips in knots, and use them as packing peanuts.
  8. Don't tape boxes shut unless you must. Sometimes we seal boxes in a certain way out of habit. If you are putting boxes into a storage unit, do they really need to be taped shut? If not, why do it?
  9. Don't go shopping for environmentally-friendly storage solutions. Focus on reuse. Even eco-friendly products have to be shipped across the country using fossil fuels.
  10. Challenge yourself to recycle or give away more than you throw out. Everyone throws out a lot of stuff when they are moving. Make two piles, one with recyclables and give-aways, and one with stuff to throw out. Then simply make sure that the recycle/give-away pile is bigger. Packing for a move, or packing to put items into storage, doesn't have to mean taking a trip to the store to buy boxes, tape, packing peanuts, and string. Do without those things if you can - you'll save money, and you'll save the environment (or at least avoid harming it any further).

Art Decker is a division manager with Self Storage Company, which operates a group of websites, including a Washington DC self-storagelocator. 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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Go for quality if you do buy eco storage products

While it is certainly a good idea to avoid buying unnecessary eco storage equipment such as bins, if you do need to buy such things in order to make moving easier, then here are a few thoughts on suitable products.

If you do opt to buy storage bins, try to buy ones which will last and ones which are made from natural materials. These resin wicker bins have received good reviews.

Books such as Storage & Shelving Solutions: Over 70 Projects and Ideas That Fit Your Budget, Space, and Lifestyle are a worthwhile source of ideas and inspiration.

How to Move Without Losing Your Mind--Or the Remote Control has a humorous take on the skills of moving house which will appeal to many people.

And don't forget the old mantra: reduce, reuse, recycle! If you have less stuff, you have less need for eco storage solutions.

Organisations such as Freecycle provide a handy way of disposing of usable unwanted gear and charity shops will often value contributions - a different kind of eco storage!


Eco Storage Solutions - top of page

Frugal Living - Living well on less

Greenfootsteps Home - for more easy green living ideas

Eco Storage Solutions for Packing Your Goods Effectively

Copyright and Art Decker 2010

Please do not copy without permission.

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