Paying Forward Fuels the Spark

Paying Forward Fuels the Spark Image Supplied: Frockwork Orange

Paying forward revives the spark

Images courtesy of PlanetArk and Frockwork Orange

The donation domino effect

Judging by the abundance of op-shops, recycling centres and the popularity of de-cluttering gurus the pay-it-forward movement is as strong as ever. Lockdown-time also helped us tune into global issues and reflect on how we want to live, ensuring we realise the need to play our part in protecting the earth’s resources and live more sustainably.

We’ve seen the swing in our culture to where recycling is accepted and expected, but while clothes can’t be composted into wine like food scraps there is plenty they can do. This is why most town centres now boast a Vinnies, Salvos and/or Red Cross store and the corporates reducing waste are winning shopper loyalty.

Proceeds of our unwanted clothing and stock from retailers and businesses now fuel many community programs. So, in addition to the direct benefits to our neighbours, re-using reduces landfill and helps sustain resources, develops a healthy mindset about giving, reduces plastic waste and keeps carbon miles down.

Paying it forward pays back

There are many Pay It Forward collection points throughout the central west; the main ones being Vinnies, Red Cross Shops, Lifeline Central West and Salvos Stores.  Orange’s Buena Vista charity shop is another busy independent, and collectively they welcome good quality clothes, homewares, CD/DVDs and books.

Each charity decides what and when they collect – so, check with your local if there’s any doubt. Teams of volunteers sort items for their shops or for distribution to community programs including womens, mens and family shelters, the homeless, day care centres and disaster relief.

Income from Vinnies shops goes towards low-income support, counselling services, housing and homelessness, refugees and migrants, health, indigenous Australia, children and education, energy research (tariff tracking) and partnerships in 153 countries.

They also runs Return and Earn programs with schools and sporting groups, providing the charity with an additional revenue stream via container collection bins and each group with a tax invoice at the end of the financial year for the donation. This is a big win-win.

The Australian Salvation Army shops help fund drop-in centres across the central west, where people come for breakfast (pre-bookings for catering are essential), learn mother-craft skills, receive professional counselling and learn how to break the poverty cycle. They also fund welfare cards, a resource library, training for under-30’s in leadership and humanitarian projects (Red X Youth), run ‘RUOK?’ days and corporate fundraising partnerships, make Trauma Teddys (click for pattern) and develop safe communities with their ‘Disastrous Dinners’ (see here for menu).

To help slow the fast-fashion cycle, Vinnies has also partnered with Salvos Stores and Red Cross Shops for their initiative ‘Moving the Needle on Fashion Waste’ by creating convenient drop-off points in Westfield Shopping Centres called The Empty Shop. Customers are encouraged to donate their pre-loved clothing here instead of throwing it away, in a bid to reduce textile waste in landfill by 20% in 2022.

Nationally, these charities are drastically reducing water consumption (through reduced clothing manufacture) and the quantity of slowly decomposing textile-waste landfill. Refreshingly, their surveys have found that over 60% of women are now happy to buy pre-loved.

Unsaleable clothes can also find new life by being sewn into shopping totes in Vinnies’ Re/Cycle programs. These are available in Bathurst in limited numbers and are one-off pieces.

Want to shop recycled online? Go to Vinnies ebay Shop for a convenient way to join the movement.

Plus, if you have any designer, BNWT and collectible clothing it can be taken to Frockwork Orange for consignment sale, where the owner also provides a personal shopping service.

Uniquely, Lifeline Central West accepts book donations. They hold an annual book fair in May in Bathurst and this year sold thousands of books at Bathurst Showground over four days, their biggest fundraiser so far.

Lifeline’s counselling service has been under particular strain these last two years and fair proceeds will go towards volunteer training and delivery of their phone crisis support in Bathurst, Orange and Dubbo for drug and alcohol issues, mental health, gambling addiction as well as natural disaster relief.

Build your community

Giving also helps drought and storm victims via pledges to GIVIT of clothes, vouchers, toys, fuel, groceries, hardware, whitegoods, beds and bedding. In a simple and direct approach they aim to provide critical support in emergencies through collaboration with state and local governments, local charities and community groups by listening – then list online what is needed to speed the recovery. And if they need to buy anything for an emergency, they’ll get it locally if possible to support the local retailers.

Most local Councils, including Orange, in the central west run PlanetArk recycling programs. They have a drop-off system for tricky items like batteries, chemicals, coffee capsules, whitegoods, mattresses, business equipment, paint, polystyrene and x-rays. They are also running an education program for schools from 3 October to 11 November 2022 for the leadup to their National Recycling Week.

PlanetArk partners with online community recycling programs, charity ‘op shops’, swap parties, re-use hacks, tool libraries and online marketplaces, offer a range of education materials and upcycling tutorials and run mass tree plantings. Their Re-use model (see below) makes it easy to see the ‘why’ to reduce our wastage of water, energy fuel, natural resources and importantly landfill to save our precious resources for a greener, sustainable future.

Big business is getting smarter finding the ‘hows’.  Apple (R) is one leading the pack with their Self Service Repair process launched in November 2021 where users can access up to 200 spare phone parts and tools online to repair their products. This potentially goes a long way to increasing the longevity of our resources and reducing gadget wastage.

Get creative

Why not get started with Marie Kondo‘s six basic rules of tidying:

  • Commit yourself to tidying up
  • Imagine your ideal lifestyle
  • Finish discarding first
  • Tidy by category, not by location
  • Follow the right order: clothes, books, papers and sentimental items
  • Ask yourself if it sparks joy…

And finally, some more places to donate:

  • Animal shelters and vet clinics – donations of clean towels and blankets are always welcome. You can also donate pet food and toys and clean bedding to shelters and rescue homes.
  • Day care centres – ask about donating art, cushions, blankets and bedding
  • Schools – ask about donating uniforms, school bags, drink bottles and lunch-boxes etc
  • Community service-groups – check their online calendar for fundraising sales
  • Migrants and refugees – enquire at OCC Community Services about their needs. Ph 6393 8000

Or try starting a street library at your house these school holidays – it’s a great conversation starter.

There are so many ways to make a difference. Start today for a better place for everyone.

Diana Smith

I'm an Orange-based photographer, writer, face painter and book designer. I enjoy meeting the lovely folk of our community and have been involved in publishing/media/comms for about 15 years. I have done several exhibitions and in 2022 published my own childrens story, 'The Mouses Houses.'

Read Posts