With millions of us moving each year and the amount of household waste on the rise, it makes sense to try to keep waste to a minimum when it comes time to move.

About 120 million Americans who were five years old and over in 2000 — 46 percent of us — lived in a different home than they did in 1995, according to a report released last month by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Twenty-five percent moved within the same county, ten percent between counties in the same state, eight percent between states, and three percent had moved here from abroad.

Meanwhile, some 1,580 pounds of waste is generated per person per year, according to a 1997 study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencyand the Census Bureau.

Most of that waste — 602 pounds — is in the form of paper and paperboard. Another 149 pounds is derived from plastics; 58 in textiles; and 82 in wood.

In 1999, recycling and composting activities kept about 64 million tons of material from ending up in landfills and incinerators. Today Americans recycle 28 percent of our waste — a rate that has almost doubled during the past 15 years.

Although nearly 30 percent of municipal waste is reportedly recycled, America is generation an increasing amount of waste every year, growing from 247 million tons of non-hazardous waste in 1990 to 409 million tons in 2001, according toBiocycle Magazine, an industry publication.

While recycling has grown in general, recycling of specific materials has grown even more drastically. The EPA says: 42 percent of all paper, 40 percent of all plastic soft drink bottles, 55 percent of all aluminum beer and soft drink cans, 57 percent of all steel packaging, and 52 percent of all major appliances are now recycled.

Aiming to keep improving the recycling statistics, EPA has a handful of tips to help you reduce waste if you’ll be moving to a new house anytime soon. They include:

  • Try not to buy new boxes — start saving boxes beforehand. Check with local businesses for any leftover boxes. Also ask any new neighbors who have recently moved in.
  • If you’re not able to scrounge up old boxes, go with corrugated boxes with the highest recycled content you can find.
  • Pack your clothes, linens, and other items in suitcases or duffel bags that you already own.
  • Recycle your boxes once you’re unpacked and moved in.
  • Check with your moving company about renting reusable storage crates. These boxes last about 10 years and can then be recycled.
  • Use old newspapers to wrap your fragile items.
  • Consider using environmentally preferable packing materials like cushioning peanuts made of biodegradable cornstarch and bubble wrap containing post-consumer recycled plastic. Recycle or reuse these materials once you’re done with them.
  • Be sure you properly dispose of non-recyclable hazardous materials before you move. This would include household cleaners, paints, automotive supplies, and other items that require special disposal. Check with your waste company or local government to see if they offer drop-off locations.
  • Use recycled latex paint for household projects when it’s appropriate.
  • Have a yard sale before you move to lighten your load. Sell clothes that don’t fit anymore, as well as any toys, appliances, books and any other items you don’t want to move.
  • Donate any leftover items to charity.

Once you move into your new house, find out if your new community has a recycling program. If so, participate by separating and putting out your recyclables for curbside pickup or taking them to your local drop-off or buy-back center.

The EPA also says you can shop smarter. Use products in containers that can be recycled in your community and items that can be repaired or reused. Also, support recycling markets by buying and using products made from recycled materials.

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