An integral part of the moving process involves preparation. This preparation has many elements; from hiring a mover and reserving an elevator to packing the contents of your place. Boxes, packing paper, tape, and mattress bags are just a few of the essential ingredients. In the past, people generally purchased new boxes from storage facilities, big box stores, their moving company, or they gathered used ones. Recently however, there has been a new option: plastic containers. Under a variety of company names these plastic crates have been billed as an economical and environmentally friendly alternative to cardboard. But how useful are they for the actual process of moving?
There are some positive and negative points when it comes to moving with plastic crates. The initial plus is that most of the companies deliver the crates to your home. Additionally no set up is required, just open the lid and away you go! Once they are filled, you can stack them uniformly in the corner.
On moving day, the merits of the plastic crate is put to the test. The first issue: the crates come in one size only. Your typical inner city move needs at least two sizes, one for books (heavy items) and another for general household goods. Every time I’ve moved these plastic crates they have been overloaded. One size definitely doesn’t fit all, though, it’s not always a problem. For example, if both ends of the move have an elevator, an exceptionally heavy crate is ok. The crate goes onto a four wheel board, into the elevator, and up the ramp to the truck.
If there are stairs however, the difficulty of moving an overloaded crate becomes obvious. First, the weight of the crate itself – it can be the equivalent of a 3.5 cubic ft box filled with books. Second, the design of the crate is problematic. A large cardboard box for moving (think china barrel) is designed to be tall and narrow, whereas the plastic tub is low and wide. This low wide crate has hand holds on the top, and slippery tapered sides, which makes it difficult to hold from the bottom. This is an issue particularly when climbing stairs, as a heavy weight needs to be grasped from underneath. Additionally, todays apartments and condos have a variety of door widths. Because the crates are low are wide, you often have to turn your body slightly when carrying through a doorway to prevent scraping your hands. This can put an uneven load on the back, which is never a good thing.
If you are moving and have elevators on both ends – and no stairs in between – then plastic crates are a reasonable alternative to cardboard boxes. However, if your move involves stairs of any kind, multi sized cardboard boxes may be a better choice.
For professional advice about moving and the use of plastic boxes, please contact the best Movers in Vancouver: CityMOVE.ca.
* Update 2011. Please visit the following links for an expanded discussion on the topic: