One More Thing

"Mum, I need your help! I don't know where to put my stuff because my room is already full."

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Senior Daughter arrived home last summer after her first year away at university, living in a room that barely had a foot of space between desk and bed. Despite the diminutive proportions of her living space, she never the less came home with a lot of 'stuff'.

I stood with her contemplating her bedroom. Maybe 'full' was a slight exaggeration, but she wasn't too far off the mark.

The spare room, I decided, would have to be the answer, followed by a full-scale sort out of SD's bedroom so that we could create space and amalgamate two rooms worth of 'stuff' into one.

SD started by going through her wardrobe and pulling out various things that she no longer wore but were in good condition. The adult clothes we sent to – an online clothes swap organization, which we really like. The children’s clothes went to our local charity shop.

She then went through drawers and boxes filled with nick-nacks and bits of jewellery. This was split between the local charity shop and Against Breast Cancer charity, for whom I collect bits of unwanted jewellery, even if it is broken as well as old beads, buttons, broken watches, single cufflinks and single earrings. These all get up-cycled into wonderful jewellery and sold at craft fairs to raise money for Against Breast Cancer.

Within a few days, we had an organized room with a bit of space into which she could bring the accumulated contents of her year in a university hall of residence. It turned out to be fun, leading to all kinds of reminiscences of childhood.

But it led on to something much bigger… It made us realize that our house was crammed full of stuff that we no longer needed. So over the summer holidays, we set aside a few hours every now and again to sort through a room at a time, with the aim of parting with some of these trappings of family life that we'd grown out of.

We managed to re-home or recycle 80 carrier bags of clothes, shoes, books, DVDs, videos, CDs, toys and games.

You’d think that would mean the house looked bare – minimalist maybe? - but truth is, you would barely have noticed anything had gone.

A year later, I still don’t have much shelf or cupboard space that’s unoccupied and I have an accumulation of things that were targeted to be rehomed but remained because they had something missing or broken or maybe they just needed a good clean-up, which I didn't get round to doing.

So, when I was asked to become an ‘Ambassador’ for Zero Waste Week this year and informed that I needed to make a pledge to do ‘One More Thing’ to reduce waste, I knew exactly what my pledge should be.

In Zero Waste Week this year I pledge to GET MENDING! I plan to go through each room and pick out three items that need a bit of attention. I’m then going to call on the Zero Waste Week community to help me find ways to repair or repurpose my collection of things, so they can be re-homed or become useful to us again.

I find that joining in with other people on projects such as Zero Waste Week, helps to turn things from chore to challenge. Sometimes you need ideas; other times you need encouragement. I find it helps just knowing that someone else is joining in with you and it is nice to be able to share your ‘successes’. And that's why I'm in!

Zero Waste Week 2014 runs from 1st to 7th September and you can join in by signing up on the website. What’s your ‘One More Thing’?

Anna Pitt

Author and speaker on green living and circular economy, -

Hi! After 20 years as a systems analyst I've turned my attention to finding ways to engage the next generation in a greener less wasteful lifestyle. I'm passionate about waste reduction and I'm currently researching the ins and outs of recycling in the UK for a book series for young people. You can read more about my green living efforts on my blog at and my website will tell you all about my workshops and courses for schools and community groups. My first book, 101 Ways to Live Cleaner and Greener for Free, is a book of eco-tips with a bit of explanation about how small steps can make a big difference. My next book, Leftover Pie, is due out later this year.