close up of towels in linen closet

Written by Kristina Duke

When I think of community, I think of my neighbourhood or my suburb, and the thought of being a leader of change for the betterment of others can seem overwhelming. So, like all challenges I face I like to take it a step at a time and break it down into smaller goals. So, let us start by being a leader of change in our families, in our homes.

Now of course my first thought is always on the topic of clutter and decluttering. Being Decluttering Diva Professional Organiser is my life and my passion so that is not surprising.

Here are a few ideas to stimulate some long-term change of habits relating to stuff.

In my family I have created the good practise of decluttering our wardrobes nearly every quarter (usually while the kids are on school holidays is good time). A simple option is to of course put your discarded items into a bag and drop them in a charity bin that you see in your travels but you could take it take it further and donate it to a specific charity that resonates with your family’s values. For example, in Sydney area where I love we have a group called Mummies Paying it Forward collect clothing for both mums and children, prams, cots and other baby/kid related items to distribute to mums and kids in crisis. Maybe you could give your clothing to a local Womens Shelter, op shop or even a family in need in your area. Remember to be mindful of the quality of your items, if you wouldn’t pass it to a friend, don’t pass it to a charity. If your clothing isn’t worthy of being worn it could still be recycled through initiatives like H&M (www.hm.com), Manrags (www.manrags.com.au) or Sheridan https://www.sheridan.com.au/sheridan-life/the-sheridan-recycling-program.html)

We could also look differently at our stuff before it even comes into the house. When shopping it can be beneficial to consider where the item will live or whether you even have a space or home for it? If you are not sure, do not purchase it, come home evaluate and if you still think it will work, go back, and get it the next day. Often with 24 hours to consider we realise it is not really needed. Have a think about whether you are buying it just because its on sale. While saving money on an item you have been mulling over for a while is great, spending money just because the item is cheaper is not a good motivator.  Often items are discounted because they are close to expiry, have a better model, or the like? Unless you will use them and soon, leave them on the shelf. Do you already own something similar? Does that original item still make-do or will this new item replace it? A common organising practise is if you bring one in, you take one out. You could challenge yourself further with one in, two out. It can really help you to be mindful of what you purchase.  By being more mindful when we purchase and educating our family and friends of some of these spending pitfalls we can create change that will not only reduce clutter in our homes but also help us save our hard earned money.

The theme of this article is to be a leader of change that betters others and there is no clearer way to benefit others than to consider the environment when we are decluttering. The consequences of our ever-increasing landfill will impact generations to come if we do not make changes now. Here are just a few amazing programs that you should consider in your home that not only help the environment but also those in need:

  • Collect your bread tags and donate to www.ozbreadtagsforwheelchairs.org.au
  • Sports equipment can go to www.fairgame.org.au
  • Donate unwanted pantry items to your local food bank
  • Recycle your old pens and textas, printer cartridges and other e-waste at Officeworks
  • Any new stationery items that you don’t need can go to www.gotapen.com.au who make school packs for kids in need.
  • Unused hotel toiletries are gratefully received by Every Little Bit Helps (www.elbh.org.au) who distribute them to the homeless.

It may take a little extra effort but that is what being a leader is about, taking it a step further, being a step ahead and leading the way.

You could offer to be a collection hub for one of these initiatives and advertise in your local area through Facebook or your local newspaper. It is a fairly simple way to be a leader, educate your community and create change for good. You could decide to not even be part of something official but rather you could be inspired by the example of a local family in my area who collects cans and bottles from the neighbourhood and through the Return and Earn program uses the funds from the recycling to finance little projects close their heart like getting a coffee machine and coffee pods for the nurses station at the hospital, or helping fund for a wheelchair for a local child in need. Their small but consistent efforts are a beautiful example of being a leader of change for the betterment of others, and they are just kids!

Maybe you feel relatively decluttered and do not have things to offer but have a skill you could share to your community instead. Can you crochet or knit? You could join a group and make blankets for the homeless. Maybe you like to cook and could prepare some meals for your local outreach centre. Maybe you could volunteer to be a reading buddy at your local primary school. Do you love to garden? You could join a group that helps the elderly or disadvantaged in their gardens, or even join a community garden program. You may not realise how your small impact combined with the efforts of others can create and tsunami of love and change for someone.

The business motto for Decluttering Diva is “changing the world one drawer at a time”. As I work with each client decluttering and organising their space, we address just a drawer, shelf, or box at a time. It is important reminder to me and my clients to not get overwhelmed at the task at hand and work on one small area, to realise that our small, deliberate, thoughtful actions can change our homes, our world and our communities. We can not do it all but we can do something. 😊

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