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Tag: homeless

Emma vs Stuff

A hoarder attempts to declutter in an environmentally friendly way…

I have too much stuff.

A few weeks ago, as of writing this blog, I (Emma) was trying to find the will to tidy up. I had four baskets of laundry that needed doing, I had at least one basket of ironed clothes that needed putting away, I had Christmas decorations to pack away, I had letters from my bank that needed filing, and I had new gifts from Christmas and my birthday that I needed to find space for.

That’s when it hit me. The reason that it felt so overwhelming to begin tidying is that I have far too much stuff.

I didn’t want to put my clothes away because there was barely any space in my wardrobe or drawers, I didn’t want to put my DVDs on the shelf because I didn’t have room, and I didn’t want to put away my bank statements because the folder was full.

How did it get to this point?

Well simply, I have long been reluctant to throw anything away for environmental reasons. Charity shops, where I’d wager most people dispose of their old items, are overrun with the castoffs from fast fashion and are unable to shift it- so they sell perfectly usable clothes as rags (to make some money) or send them to developing countries (which hurts the local textile/garment industry and the economy as a whole)- and are outright refusing or binning some items because they can’t make money from them (VHS tapes/cheap kids toys).

Besides, what if someday I fit back into that dress/ discover how to dismantle that perfume bottle/ find the lock that fits the key that I’ve had in my desk drawer since 2007/ want to watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer on video?

I’ve known for a while that this hoarding is a tendency of mine and up until this year, I had decided just not to buy new stuff, but that doesn’t solve the problem.

In 2018, I’ve been attempting to get rid of my excess stuff in a way that doesn’t hurt the environment and I wanted to share with you what I’ve learnt.

Sell things

As discussed above, sometimes charity shops cannot sell donated items but that doesn’t mean you can’t. It began as an experiment with VHS tapes because I couldn’t find anywhere that would take them or how they could be recycled and I listed various videos that I didn’t want anymore on eBay because I had some free listings.

I had expected them not to sell at all, but a couple of them sold quickly. This might be because it’s rare to find that film/tv programme nowadays or because someone is still refusing to get a DVD player. Either way, they escaped the landfill.

I’ve done the same thing with several empty perfume bottles that I’ve been hiding at the bottom of my wardrobe because I wasn’t able to separate the glass bottle from the metal/plastic spray nozzle for recycling. Turns out some people really like to collect perfume bottles… why knew?

I even print the labels on scrap paper and use old cardboard boxes to send the items.

Remember, just because you’re being kind to the environment, that doesn’t mean you can’t make money.

Donating direct to people/organisations that can use the items

Again, if charity shops are overrun with goods that are made to suit fad fashion, then why not donate the goods direct to people who can use them. This might mean listing items on Freegle or Freecycle or googling “donate [item] Portsmouth”.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve donated a few bedding sets and some clothes to the local women’s refuge (someone collects them as they cannot give out the address for safety reasons), quilt covers and pillows to The Lifehouse, a homeless resource centre in Southsea, travel-size toiletries (collected from hotels over the years) to Two Saints, another homeless shelter, and donated cat treats and toys that my cat doesn’t like to The Stubbington Ark RSPCA Animal Shelter to feed/entertain their rescue cats.

You may even find that someone you know is looking for an item, so update your Facebook status or send out a tweet. I donated my grandma’s moving boxes to a friend who owns an online business and ships large items and got rid of my many empty Lush pots to friends who wanted a free face mask.

Even stuff that isn’t in good condition can still have a use. My cat routinely claws clothing, bedding, blankets etc. and in the past month, I’ve donated ripped bedding to The Stubbington Ark for use as bedding for their animals and ripped clothing to the PDSA as rags- the charity can get money from the rag merchant and recycling credits from the government.

I’m not going to lie. It hasn’t always been easy to find the most environmentally friendly way to declutter but it has been worth it. Hopefully, at the end of the year, I can tell you that I’ve been able to declutter without damaging the environment.

Do you have any tips on eco-friendly ways to declutter? Let me know in the comments below.

Volunteering in Portsmouth this holiday season

It is December in Pompey. The days are crisp, mornings are frosty, the heating is on and I bought my Secret Santa gift at the Love Southsea Christmas Market on Palmerston Road. So for me (Tamara), the festive season is here!

 

I generally enjoy the activities and hubbub around Christmas but I definitely struggle with the consumerism that surrounds it. A gremlin who lives in my brain is awakened around mid-November who really wants me to buy the things, buy all the beautiful things!  Over the last few years, my husband and I have tried to create our own traditions that isn’t about ‘stuff’. We make homemade cranberry vodka, Guyanese-style black rum cake and he makes a very alcoholic knock-your-socks-off Dutch-style advocat. But our traditions don’t revolve solely around booze: we get a real, sustainable Forestry Commision Christmas tree from Queen Elizabeth’s Country Park which thrills my Trinidadian heart and we also go to the truly magical Cathedral Christmas Carol Service which soothes my soul.

As the years have passed and we have celebrated more Christmases as fully-fledged real-life adults, I started to become more socially aware and wanted to do something at Christmas that didn’t focus primarily on gift giving and stuff. There is very little I need and with my friends and family scattered across the country, I would rather see them and spend time together drinking some of that home-made cranberry vodka and advocat (but not mixed together…I tried that one year…and just – no!).

 

So for the last few years, my hubby and I have spent Christmas Day in Fareham, volunteering as a Christmas Day Lunch Helper. It is a wonderful initiative which hosts 100 guests who would otherwise find themselves alone at Christmas. I absolutely love helping out – the best thing is being able to chat, chat and chat a bit more with the guests. A traditional Christmas lunch is served, carols are sung and raffles are won. For me, this makes it a day that fills me with hope and joy and all the smushy stuff. Last year, fellow Pompey Green Party members Tracey and Mac also volunteered closer to home on Christmas Day at a joint event with Portsmouth Cathedral and FoodCycle. Tracey enjoyed it so much she is on the look-out for any Christmas Day volunteering opportunities this year.

 

I also participate in the the Rucksack Event which every November collects rucksacks full of useful everyday items for homeless people in the city. I have fun scouring the charity shops all year round collecting socks, sleeping bags etc. This year I wasn’t organised enough to get my rucksack together for their collection date in November but luckily I can still take the stuff I gathered to Hope House Hostel direct.

 

Of course, not everyone wants or is able to volunteer on Christmas Day or during the festive season. If you can, donate your time, money, food or skills to one of the many fantastic local projects and charities that help vulnerable, homeless and isolated people both in the winter and all year round. The projects I mention are ones that I have directly been involved in but there are many more that you can find through good ‘ol google or Facebook or however you find stuff out!

 

Have you volunteered on Christmas Day or during the festive season? Do you know of any Christmas Day volunteering events in or around Portsmouth that Tracey can get involved in? Tell us about it in the Comments section below.

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