There are many ways to produce less waste. When it comes to pollution prevention, the best way to limit the amount of trash you throw away is to reduce it altogether. If you can’t reduce, then reuse containers and products you already have. If reusing still isn’t feasible, try to recycle as much as possible and buy products with recycled content. Our abundant use and waste of cardboard is a perfect example of the need to reduce, reuse and recycle. The forests that make cardboard help protect our rivers and lakes from erosion and remove carbon dioxide from the air we breathe.
Cardboard boxes are everywhere. According to the American Forest and Paper Association, in excess of 90 percent of all products in the U.S. are shipped in corrugated cardboard boxes. Though cardboard is reusable, recyclable and relatively biodegradable, it still makes up nearly 14 percent of the nation’s municipal solid waste. Every year, Americans throw away enough wood and paper products to heat five million homes for 200 years.
When people move, they scour local stores for cardboard boxes to reuse, but often they also purchase cardboard boxes. This adds financial and environmental costs. Around 43 million people move each year and the average person moves 11.7 times in his or her life – that’s a lot of boxes! Here’s some other interesting statistics:
Each ton of cardboard produced uses the following resources:
• 17 trees
• 79 gallons of oil
• 7000 gallons of water
• 42,000 kilowatts of energy
• 60 gallons of air pollution
• 3 cubic yards of landfill space
Though cardboard has made up the traditional moving box, an innovative company in the San Francisco Bay area is changing how people move. ZippGo brings reusable plastic green boxes–made from 100 percent recycled plastic–to your home or business, just before you move, and then picks them up at your new address once your move is complete. ZippGo is not a moving company; it delivers and picks up sustainable moving supplies to you for your move and even uses trucks powered by biodiesel.
ZippGo offers four moving packages, which range from 25 boxes up to 75 boxes. It also can provide sustainable moving “extras” like bubble wrap, cushion cubes, expandos, packing paper and even wardrobe boxes for clothing.
Not only does ZippGo offer a sustainable way to move, its services are less expensive than purchasing cardboard boxes. Buying a cardboard box runs about $3.50 each, while renting from ZippGo costs only $2.50 each for a week. The plastic boxes are waterproof, crush-proof, tear-proof, include handles and can be locked. You also save time searching for cardboard boxes because ZippGo delivers the plastic boxes to your door and picks them up when you’re done.
Ash Sud is the founder of ZippGo and says that the concept for the service was born intuitively as he was managing an award-winning organic grocery home delivery company. That company uses reusable green plastic boxes to deliver organic fruits and vegetables to homes and businesses around the Bay area. While working there, Ash had moved a couple times and used the green plastic boxes to pack his belongings. After the grocery delivery business merged with another company in 2008, he embarked on another move but no longer had access to the green plastic boxes and was forced to buy cardboard ones and then find an environmentally way to dispose of them.
Out of his experience came ZippGo. Ash says “I took one look around at the stack of cardboard sitting in my apartment after my move, multiplied it by all the people that move every year, and knew that it was time to turn lemons into lemonade.” He is finding his new green business venture rewarding. “We are thrilled at the prospect of preventing millions of pounds of cardboard from going into our landfills,” he says.