Wasting less isn't just about the planet.
Updated: Apr 10, 2019
I desperately want everyone to realise that being less wasteful isn't just about minimising pollution, securing our precious eco system and slowing down global warming, it's also very much about caring for the humans who make up this beautiful and endangered planet. It's a circular issue that needs to be approached holistically. You don't have to be doing everything perfectly, but we all at the very least need to do better.
You may have seen my instagram story earlier about dropping some donated clothes to a childcare centre. Even though I really don't feel that comfortable about putting my heavily pregnant, unmade up face on social media right now, I felt a desperation to speak. To get out a message about how we can do better as a community with no real personal sacrifice.
I recently attempted to organise a 'clothing swap' at my playcentre, where members would bring in kindy quality clothes they no longer required and others could take what they needed for their child. The reason I decided to do this, is because clothes get absolutley destroyed at playcentre with all the awesome messy free play the kids do, so buying new clothes no matter how cheap is still a waste in my opinion and also the clothes you're left with when your child grows out of them are hard to do much with as they're genreally not in good enough condition to donate to a charity shop etc. Although I ended up with quite a lot of clothes brought in, there wern't many takers from playcentre to take clothes away. I'd gotten lots of feedback that the idea was good but ultimately not many were interested in the clothes. I put this down to many of our members are currently attending playcentre with their youngest child so already have their older kids 'hand me down' clothes to use at playcentre and also most most of us are well supported by family and friends who pass stuff on when they no longer need it and those who love to buy things for our kids such as grandparents, aunts and uncles etc. Connections that for the most part we probably take for granted.
With so many clothes left over, I posted on my local mums facebook page to see if there was any interest. There was so much interest that I wished i'd advertised the swap to the public. So I have dropped a few boxes to people and others have come to playcentre to fill a bag. Another member took the surplus to "free week" at the Clevedon Church which runs every year. One woman who responded to my post, said she would be happy to take any left over clothing for the childcare centre she worked in as the families in attendance didn't have much and they often had to send them home in spare clothes that came from the centre rather than their backpack if they got wet or dirty. I dropped a box off to the centre today. A lovely looking spot with friendly smiling staff and a van parked outside displaying that they provided free pick up and drop off as well as meals. The woman was so grateful that it left me feeling a little emotional afterwards, hence the instagram story. There is so much social divide but also so many amazing people trying to do something. What I was doing was nothing amazing, it didn't cost me anything but a small amount of my time which I have to spare. So my point is- those of us who are able, need to do more, or sometimes just need to do things differently. Don't assume that the things you have are rubbish because you don't want them and also don't assume chairity shops want everything that you don't want. Take a little time to research how the unwanted items might benefit other people. Charity shops are sick of recieving your unwanted crap. Marie Kondo has made life miserable for chairty shops. Do you know they are having to spend money on dumping a huge portion of the stuff they're given? Check ahead if you're not sure what they're aloud to sell or what they do and dont't have room for. If you have collected all those goodies you no longer require or want, then you need to make sure they are moved on responsibily. Giving them to those who can not afford to purchase even form a chairty shop is a simple way do better.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO THEN?
*Reaching out with a post on your local facebook community page is the best place to start. This way you can briefly describe the items you have and ask for suggestions on the best place to take them. You'll likely be given lots of options of charities and organisations which mean you could choose something suitable to your location or even a cause you would love to support.
*If you have old towels or blankets not fit to donate, the SPCA or other animal shelters are usually very keen on these.
* Charity shops may be keen on your excess glass jars, bubble wrap or shopping bags.
* Many churches and maraes run programes to help families in need so are a good source to contact if you have decent bedding, clothing and household items. I donated a bunch of baby stuff to a church who ran a clothing library of sorts which I thought was a genius idea.
*Maternity wards collect good quality baby clothes and items to make up packs for new mums who don't have all they need.
*See if your local doctors surgery or dentist want your unwanted magazines and kids toys.
* Toy libraries may be grateful for donations of good quality toys.
* Advertise any large cardboard boxes on facebook for people who may be moving house. Or ask your local childcare centre if they'd like them for play. We use boxes all the time at playcentre, the kids love painting them and pretending they are all sorts of weird and wonderful things other than a box!
*Advertise your random bits and bobs for free on buy and sell pages. You never know who might be able to take advantage of broken or incomplete items if they have the means to repair or repurpose them.
*Take food to your local community pantry or if it's non perishable to a donation bin at the supermarket. My sons preschool has a share basket that families can pop excess food in for others to take advantage of. I've had delicious home grown cherry tomatoes and grapes from the basket, just to name a few! If I know I won't get through my whole bunch of celery or beets from my vege box I pop them the basket for someone who can use them up.
*Warming hearts NZ make up bundles for familes with new babies who are in need and are a great place to donate you bassinets and blankets to when your child has grown out of them. Because bedding like fleece is cheap, many families opt for this which sadly is not safe for baby. A second hand blanket made of natural fibres like merino and cotton is a far superior and safer solution. https://www.warminghearts.co.nz/bundle-list
*Little sprouts do a very similar thing. http://littlesproutsnz.org/our-branches
* Of course you may already know of places such as womans refuge and the salvation army. I believe you need to call ahead to find out what, if anything they're accepting because of storage space and current demand.
DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY!
*Don't be afraid to ask your friends if they'd like any of your stuff you're moving on! Just because they can afford to buy their own things, it doesnt mean we should't encourage filling our needs (or wants for that matter) by accepting or buying second hand.
*Even if you're privileged enough to be able to buy things brand new, consider second hand.
*Try to support small businesses who put love into their products and use the money to support their little familes, businesses who are doing good in the community because they care not because it's good PR. (looking at you Countdown supermarkets with your bullshit sustainable claims but sell LOL dolls and giant stuffed unicorns). *Support businesses who use sustainable and ethical materials and package and ship with responsible materials. Sadly everything you buy from the likes of Farmers, Kmart etc was individually packed in plastic before it was stocked on the shelf or rack. Obviously these places are staple stores, practical and affordable for most families but it's still worth keeping in mind.
*Humans are designed to live in tight knit communities and groups- something we don't typically do in modern life. We stick to ourselves, solve our own problems at all costs and seek convenience above everything. Reach out, stop judging, be kind, be generous. It costs you nothing, it feels good and it helps others. I'm over hearing people say that "the government" should do this, fund that etc. It's high time we took things into our own hands and made a little effort to do things differently here on the ground by being more mindful and more compassionate. It might not solve all the worlds problems, but it seems like a pretty logical place to start if you ask me.
"Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te iwi"
"With your basket and my basket the people will live"
Moari proverb refering to co-operation and the combination of resources to get ahead.