If you consider yourself an earnest, environmental-minded, thoughtful citizen of the planet, don't even think of relocating half way around the world. I wish there were a low impact way to move across the ocean. I guess if you consider shipping to be less carbon intensive than air freight, we score a few points. And though I'm grateful that Amazon paid for us to fill up a 40 foot cargo container, I wasn't prepared for the shocking amount of packing material, and hence the number of trees whose lives were cut short, that went into this move.
I bragged to everyone that I didn't have to pack a thing, not a dish, not a single piece of underwear. Had I known what I'd be getting on the other end, I would have volunteered to do my own boxing and signed a waiver that stated it was my fault if anything broke. I would have wrapped my drinking glasses in that underwear, put the plates between the bed sheets, left behind all those empty canning jars and vases. Why, oh why, did they have to use so much paper? As C so rationally pointed out, paper is cheaper than human labor and that's not likely to change.
I still don't think we have that much stuff, but we did end up with a freight-load of packing detritus. I suspect 30% of our freight volume was made up of packing material.
As I started unrolling the first few items from the crisp, clean barely wrinkled layers of creamy paper I got excited by the prospect of not having to buy wrapping paper for the next 12 years. I smoothed out the edges and started a re-use pile that Z and I could one day embellish with hand prints or potato stamps. When that pile started to tip over, I made another, until all the pressing and piling I was doing meant that I could expect to have our possessions unpacked sometime in 2014.
There were times when I fumed with the absurdity of it. Like the moment when I unrolled and unrolled a wad of thick paper, expecting to find some delicate, valuable item (even though I don't own anything like that) only to discover three small screws, no doubt haphazardly thrown into the Seattle kitchen drawer ages ago, and now wrapped and protected as though they were the all-important fasteners that would hold this family together.
Pretty soon I was unrolling items and stuffing the paper into empty cardboard boxes as fast as I could, compressing the volume with my feet while chanting my penitence to the Natural Resource Goddess. And when our cast-offs became unmanageable, I stuffed as much as I could into the back of our CRV and bolted to the recycling station which, fortunately in England, is present at just about every large shopping center, our closest being just down the street.
So now, almost one month to the day of our things arriving, I'm still unraveling; our possessions AND how I feel about them. I'm not one to become indifferent and so I keep unwrapping one box and filling another for donation and kicking myself for bringing it all with me. Will I finally put together albums for the photos I've carted over here dating back to 1993? Will I knit again and use up the skeins of gorgeous wool I bought 5 years ago while pregnant? Will I make gifts and cards out of the foreign coins, autumn leaves, exotic stamps and seashells I've collected over the past 20 years...and brought over here? I keep telling myself yes, that unemployment is a means to test all my crafty good intentions. And given all I've held onto and the volume of paper I now possess, I pledge to you here today that it gets used or gets re-purposed over the next few years and, by the time we're ready to move back to the US, we'll be coming home with just a few suitcases.
P.S. If you subscribe to this blog, the iMovie I made of Z's first day of school did not translate into the email. You can view it here.