Continuous knocking on the door made me run and open the door. ‘Good morning aunty’, said little Mohit with a beaming smile. ‘Hello Mohit and what are you carrying in your hands?’ I asked after noticing a small box which had some empty card board boxes and toilet paper holders.
‘As a part of my Environmental Studies project, I am collecting all recyclable cardboard articles. Do you have any such stuff?’ asked Mohit politely.
‘Of course I have a few items which you can add to your collection’ I told him and went in to bring some empty shoe boxes, toilet roll holders, kitchen towel holders and handed them to him.
After he left, it initiated a thought process in me. How much clutter do we accumulate over a period of time? A few things out of laziness and a few things out of sentimental value keep lingering in our houses. Festivals usually inspire us to initiate cleaning process but those come only once a year which is not enough considering the number of things we add to our home in a year.
I have a plan! I know all my building mates will also join me in this drive. I take three big boxes, label them as Charity/ Recycling/Rubbish and put them in the common area of the building. I know when my gang of ladies come out in the afternoon to have a tete-a-tete, my boxes will generate an interest.
Come afternoon and I hear buzz in the gazebo downstairs. ‘ This looks like a new drive Aunty Rao has in her mind’, remarks Neha on seeing me climbing down the stairs.
‘Absolutely right, Neha’, I announced to everyone. ‘Today Mohit inspired me to start this project. All of us have clutter in our houses which keeps lying because we dont feel inspired to clean it. Therefore, I thought wont it be better if we undertake to declutter our houses as a team!’
‘That is indeed a great idea!’ said Manisha, the cleanliness freak.
‘I sort things out to be given away or thrown, but I end up keeping them back thinking I will need them later. But now that we are undertaking it as a project, I shall be able to let go of them’, said Bela.
There started the friendly ruckus and everybody now seemed to be involved. This was almost half work done. ‘Here’s the plan’, I said, ‘ all of us will divide whatever we dont want in our houses according to the three categories and put the unwanted stuff in their respective box. Let us take a week to do that. This will give all of us enough time to go through every room.’
‘Aunty, lets decide to meet at 4 pm everyday near these boxes for this whole week because that gives all of us a deadline everyday to take out the clutter’, said Dipti, ‘ I’ll get tea for all of us’, said Naina creating a laughter and fun filled moment.
‘For those who are not here today, I shall send them a circular,’ said Jaya. We all agreed to meet at the decided time.
The drive started with a bang the next day. Everyone sorted out the stuff befitting the boxes. The charity box was the one that generated the most interest.
As Bela came down the stairs with a lamp shade in her hand destined towards the charity box, Neha remarked ‘hey Bela, that is such a beautiful lamp shade, I have never seen it hanging in your house. I have been looking for a similar one for my study, do you mind if I take it?’
‘Please go ahead, I bought this on a whim and realised later that it just does not fit with any of my room’s colour scheme. I shall be more than happy if you could use it’, said Bela. Lots of things were exchanged among the ladies. There were wires, bulbs, kitchen accessories which were of no use to one household but were needed by the other household. Things which were deemed useless in the past, now had a new life. Despite all the exchanges, the charity box was full which was then donated to an old age home.
The recyclable box also had some interesting things and Nandini being the creative wizard suggested a few ideas to use some of the recyclable material. She collected all the toilet roll holders and demonstrated how we could clump a wire and put it in these holders and label them. This helps the wires to be individually contained and labelling helps to identify them easily when needed.
Nandini suggested that she will show everyone what all she can do with old bottles, tattered baskets, empty shoe boxes etc. For the next week, Nandini took one article a day and showed us how she could transform this into a utility item.
She painted the old bottles in a continuous pattern and placed them in the corner of the stairs as a display item.The tattered baskets were decopaged with flowery wrapping papers which helps to glue the tattered portions and decorates the basket. These baskets would look beautiful as magazine holders. The empty shoe boxes were decorated with coloured paper, paint and beads to be made into gift boxes and cosmetic storage boxes.
The week went by with lots of excitement, everyone cleaned their homes with vigour. Each household felt lighter and much cleaner. Clutter is a major reason of trapping the flow of energy of the house. It is essential that the unwanted and unused things, appliances, clothes etc are taken out of the house so that the space is created. The space thus created smoothens the flow of the healthy energies. To continue such flows, it was decided among my building mates that the same drive will be undertaken every three months.
It is important that we all pay a heed to the signs that the environment is giving us. We are but a miniscule part of the universe, nonetheless, a few things on a daily basis can take us a long way in building a healthy relationship with the environment. Its important to be aware that ‘we exist because of the environment’ and not otherwise. We need to conserve not to save the environment but to save ‘ourselves’.