From frolicking with friends in the sandpit with just one bucket and trowel, to lending your sibling an outfit, the motto has been well ingrained in all of us: Sharing = Caring. The receiving aspect was always skewed towards us when we were young, but with age and wisdom (and a steady income) comes a desire to give.
Psychology Today reported that people’s happiness was greater when spending more on others than on themselves. It’s no secret that we feel good when we give, but there’s something even more special when we’re giving to our community.
The ‘Food is Free’ Movement
Over in Ballarat you may have heard about the Food Is Free Laneway. This little initiative pioneers community, with food sharing at its heart. Open to anyone and everyone, ‘the Laneway’ (as the locals call it) is a space where people can donate homemade/home-grown food, seeds, plants and the like for other members of the community to enjoy. Intrinsically no-wastage, locals are getting behind the movement en masse, with people dropping off anything from strawberry plants to veggie scraps (for composting) and unused seedlings and pots.
Lou Risdale, the mastermind behind Food is Free Ballarat, said the whole idea started from a desire to help others – with a special focus on her neighbourhood and community. From placing a few home grown veggies in a box in the laneway with a #FOODISFREE sign, the idea and community involvement grew.
“One of the main reasons I run the Laneway is to ensure that those who are not travelling too well financially can have access to some free nutritious food,” Lou said in an interview with the ABC.
“We have all been strapped for cash every now and then, so I wanted to create a space where people can feel comfortable and no judgements are made on why people are there or how much they take,” she said.
The Laneway promotes food security in the local community with honest and open intentions, and has sparked movements across other towns in Australia. Getting involved doesn’t just make you feel good, but food swapping prevents wastage, encourages fresh home-made produce, expands community networks and allows people to source food grown naturally – sans chemicals.
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Want to get more involved but can’t make it out to Ballarat? Geelong’s Sustainability Directory’s Connected Communities page lists opportunities to participate in community arts & culture, food swaps and more. Have a look to see what the Geelong region has on offer to promote more meaningful, active and social lives as a community.
Melbourne folk can head here to see the range of community gardens and food swaps happening in and around the city.
Reading is Rad
For those longstanding bookworms, you probably know all too well the struggle of abstaining from entering a bookstore… because once you enter, you won’t be leaving empty handed. Reading is great – but what happens to all the books you’ve read and loved, but sit lifeless on the bookshelf thereafter?
The Little Free Library movement is a global initiative that sees people building mini libraries using recycled materials to share the gift of books and reading. From little portable shelves near people’s letterboxes, to Facebook ‘secret status’ book exchanges; the book sharing movement is loved by anyone who enjoyed a good Aussie Bites novel or Harry Potter book as a kid.
Melbourne Central’s The Little Library promotes literacy and community through their ad hoc library, where you’re encouraged to take a book on the condition that you leave one in its place. Other Little Free Libraries in Melbourne can be found here.
The Pocket Library on Myers Street is designed to be a “light-hearted outdoor waiting room”. In partnership with the Geelong Regional Library Corporation, the little shelves are stocked with discontinued stock – but never forgotten now that they are available down the street!
Mums helping mums
An initiative for mums in Geelong (Geelong Mums), Ballarat (Eureka Mums), St Kilda (St Kilda Mums), Bendigo (Bendigo Mums) and more, the “Mums movement” works to recycle baby essentials to support families in need. Motherhood is both scary and beautiful – so any additions (e.g. cots, prams, car seats) to those experiencing hardship does not go underappreciated.
Clothes, clothes, clothes
We’ve all had that moment of panic where upon opening our wardrobes, we come to the realisation that we wear basically only 20% of what we see. Haven’t you heard of that book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”? Clean that wardrobe and household out and donate quality pre-loved items that can be of use to others in the community – and change your life, apparently! A simple google search will tell you where your local donation depot is, whether it be the local clothing bin or specifically for Salvos, Vinnies, Red Cross or Brotherhood of St Lawrence.
Country Road X Australian Red Cross
Country Road and the Australian Red Cross have partnered together to reduce clothing from landfill and help those in need. For every bundle of pre-loved Country Road items donated to the Red Cross, you’ll receive a $10 Fashion Trade voucher to use in store for purchases of $50 and over.