Moving is not eco-friendly.
And I'm not even talking about the fossil fuels expended to get your stuff from point A to point B. It's the packaging. When you move, you get a bunch of disposable cardboard, tape, plastic wrap, bubble wrap, saran wrap, wrap, wrap, and wrap to keep all your stuff protected. Then you get to your new place, take it all off, and dispose of it. ::Shudder::
If you're clever, you can cut down on this waste. But doing that thing where you run around the city looking for cardboard boxes set out on the sidewalk is So Annoying; it's a huge time suck when you just don't have the time. Buying fresh boxes, while convenient, is ridiculously expensive and ridiculously wasteful. (I think they depend on your desperation.)
The perfect solution is getting reusable bins. Which is what I did.
Bin-It is an NYC company that rents out reusable bins for your move.* It's super easy: you estimate how many boxes you need, depending on the size of your apartment, then schedule a drop off. A guy comes, wheels all the bins in on a cart or two, and leaves, which takes about five minutes. You pack all your stuff into the bins (the packaging is up to you. I raided the reusable packing supplies in my building's recycling area), sealing them with one zip tie each. (I made the mistake of zip tying both sides, which is unnecessary--as my movers told me--and will ensure that you run out of zip ties early.) They also drop off sticky labels for you to label all your bins.
At first I was looking at all the bins like, "Ha ha, there's no way I'm going to use all these. I'm a minimalist." I used all but two.
Then, you move. And when you get to your new place, you unpack everything, stack the bins back on their roller carts, and schedule a pickup. (If you need more time to unpack, you can delay the pickup for a fee.) The guy comes, takes approximately three minutes to roll the bins out and voila! You just had a pretty much waste-free move. The only waste is the zip-ties, which are recyclable, unlike packing tape.
And that is pretty much how it went to me. I loved this system. Not only did it save waste and save me the hassle of looking for boxes, it also streamlined the unpacking process. Because you know how when you unpack, you might take a couple things out, then have to move onto another box, leaving a trail of half opened boxes behind you? I could take some things out, close the bin, and stack another one on top. So over the few days when I was unpacking, I was easily able to shift things around so I could be organized about putting things away. And what about the cost? At just $109 for a one-bedroom week rental, it was actually cheaper than buying cardboard boxes. Win-win-win-win.
My only caveat is that I wish Bin-It had the option to rent a few smaller boxes for heavy things like books. Because you cannot fill one whole bin with just books without rendering it unmovable. I ended up doing a lot of "books+pillows" bins.
Finally--and this is very important--my cat, Pancho loves the bins. They turned the apartment into a feline Discovery Zone during the duration of the packing and unpacking processes. He could even gnaw on the corner (sorry, Bin-it) without actually doing any damage. So, Pancho approves, and I approve. For your next move, rent bins from Bin-It.
*Bin-It let me try out the service for free, at my request.