Chattanooga-based Bellhops wants to make moving greener

Moving company tests reusable bags, bins in Atlanta

Since its founding in 2011, Bellhops has positioned itself as an alternative to big-box moving brands with its Uber-like, on-demand moving and lifting services.

Now, the Chattanooga-based moving company is offering a way to get rid of its conventional boxes altogether when its customers employ Bellhops to help with their move. Starting in Atlanta, Bellhops is launching a pilot program to replace cardboard boxes with IKEA's giant plastic, reusable bags and Bellhops bins to offer a more eco-friendly approach to moving.

Called Bins & Liners, the new offering allows consumers to order IKEA's iconic Frakta bags instead of cardboard boxes to allow for easier movement of household items and to avoid the need to discard so much cardboard.

"Plain and simple, the traditional moving industry uses way too many cardboard boxes. That's why we're testing a greener alternative using reusable bags and plastic bins," Bellhops President Cameron Doody said in a statement. "If this pilot program is successful, we are going to be looking at ways to make it more available and sustainable in other markets."

The 19-gallon Frakta bags, which may be ordered directly from amazon.com or purchased at IKEA stores, can store most any item in an easy-to-access bag that is placed inside one of Bellhops' bins when loaded on a truck for shipment.

Laura Patti, service designer for Bellhops, said a test of the bags and bins program among 20 customers in Chattanooga over the past six months showed most consumers liked the bags better than boxes since they make it easier to place and retrieve items and even children can then help pack and unpack items being shipped. Similarly, the Bellhops employees hired to do the lifting and moving said the handles on the bags and the plastic bins make moving easier, quicker and more secure.

Consumers will still have the option of packing up their shipments in other containers.

Kyle Miller, communications director for Bellhops, said if at least 10 percent of Bellhops customers in Atlanta opt to use the bags and bins the program will be rolled out across all of the 28 cities where Bellhops now offers its moving services.

"Atlanta was a natural fit for the next step in moving this pilot forward," Miller said. "Our moving services have more than doubled in the Atlanta area and Atlanta is also the home of the closest IKEA in relation to our headquarters, which allows us to test in-store pickup."

Bellhops does not currently make any money with the new bags and bins other than a marginal amount it receives through its Amazon Associates Account when bags are purchased online.

"From its inception, this has been about developing a program that encourages use of more eco-friendly options when moving, enhancing our goal of making moving smarter and easier," Miller said. "We try to be innovative and creative in our approach and we believe we are one of the first to try to use reusable bags and bins with our moves."

Bellhops' business has more than tripled since inception, booking over 100,000 moves in the process. The company has more than 70 employees at its Chattanooga headquarters and employs about 1,200 on-demand Bellhops for short-term moving help across the country.

This article originally appeared on TimesFreePress.com on June 21st, 2017.