Tuesday 2nd March is National Old Stuff Day, a great opportunity to educate your little ones on how to be greener, more energy conscious and reduce the amount of waste that we generate. It’s not really known how Old Stuff Day started, but it’s been on the calendar for a few years now – long enough perhaps to be considered ‘vintage’ (30+ years) but maybe not, antique (100+ years!)

National Old Stuff Day can also mean different things: on the one hand, it can mean celebrating ‘old things’ such as vinyl record players, vintage clothing or forgotten art, and on the other, it can be about getting rid of the ‘old’ things that we no longer need in responsible ways, so that we can let some exciting ‘new stuff’ in. Either way, you can use the day to make some changes for the better. And if you do it, you can help your children do it too!

If you think about the word ‘stuff’, it really has a very broad and general meaning. One dictionary defines it as: “matter, material, articles, or activities of a specified or indeterminate kind that are being referred to, indicated, or implied.” So, ‘anything’ really. And if you chose to go really broad with the definition, you could use the day to either attract MORE of the stuff you want, or choose to have LESS of the stuff you don’t want!

We’ve defined 2 areas where you could apply this ‘more’ or ‘less’ approach.

1. PHYSICAL OLD THINGS

  • Declutter

There’s an old adage that says: “if you don’t love it, use it or have room for it, then you need to get rid of it”. The Eastern philosophy of Feng Shui, which is about arranging the items in your home and workspaces to promote the flow of energy, would support this, and decluttering spaces is fundamental to the practice. Even if you have no belief in the flow of universal energy, we can all relate to the negative feelings that build up when we sit looking at piles of clutter. They somehow make us feel guilty, lazy, and ‘stuck in a rut’ in more ways than one. So here are a few green and energy-conscious ways of getting rid of your clutter.

  • Organise a ‘Bring and Buy’ sale

There was a time when ‘Bring and Buy’ or ‘jumble’ sales were all the rage – perhaps these have now become a ‘vintage’ item in their own right, but however you think of them, they can be a lifeline to many who are on a limited income and a great way to pass things on so they can continue to be loved by others. You could organise your own in your setting depending on the lockdown rules, donating any unsold items to charity.

  • Upcycle

Many things such as furniture can be upcycled for a small amount of money and time but can deliver a great return on your effort. Think about giving wooden furniture a new coat of paint, or stripping the paint off and varnishing them to let the beauty of the wood shine through. Chairs can be easily given a new lease of life by changing the upholstery on the seat or arms and this technique can be used on wooden floors and doors too.

  • Create something new

Many things can also be transformed into new items to save money and the environment – old bottles become candlesticks, cutlery becomes jewellery and plastic bottles make great bird feeders that are easy and fun to make with children! Remember too that many items can make interesting and unique additions to your outdoor space. How about using an old washing-up bowl to plant bulbs in, or recycling your old wood and cardboard boxes into a bug house? If you have some old coat hangers, you could make some interesting and unique garden mobiles.

Clothing can easily be recycled – old dresses become crop tops, cushion covers or scrap material for fancy dress costumes. T-shirts make good dusters and if you have lost a sock in the wash, who says you can’t start a trend and wear odd socks any time you like? You could just cut them up into squares and add them to your craft box too. It’s a sustainable solution that will save energy and reduce waste.

Children should be encouraged into good habits with their belongings too, and you can start to educate them early about issues such as recycling and reusing objects. You may be surprised at what their young imaginations will come up with if you ask them!

Ultimately, you can donate things to charity shops or freecycle websites too but check on the restrictions in your area before setting off, as some chains are only accepting 2 bags per person, whilst others are already inundated due to lockdown. However, many council-run recycling centres also have shops where you can donate items to be resold, and one person’s junk is another person’s treasure, after all.

2. OLD HABITS AND HOBBIES

If you want to create some new habits or hobbies, consider playing an instrument, learning a language or having a go at a different sport. Lockdown has created a plethora of new educational things to do, all from the comfort of your own home, or setting, so there’s no shortage of ideas out there. Or how about doing something completely different and unusual when lockdown finishes such as:

  • Learn how to make fire from scratch
  • Book an archery or Segway session
  • Set yourself a walking-backward challenge – possibly for charity
  • Ask the children what new things they would like to do and try that

Promoting good habits in children is important as once learned, they will serve the children well for the rest of their lives. Think about things like improving oral hygiene, or helping them to exercise more, helping the planet or encouraging wildlife in the garden, or just regularly giving something back by helping those less fortunate.

And if you’re looking to give up some old habits that you feel are holding you back, then now is the time to start; be it smoking, drinking, or eating things that are not helping your body, Old Stuff Day would be as good a time as any to commit to making the change.

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