For ten years, we were part of a work party. We met once a month at one of the participant’s home, worked for three hours doing whatever the homeowner needed us to do, then had a potluck. We brought along not only food to share, but also our own plates, utensils and glasses so the person hosting did not have to clean up afterwards.
There were anywhere from six to ten households participating. Each household got as many turns in the rotation as there were people doing the work; both of us worked so we got two turns in the rotation, but not back-to-back. When we joined the group, we really didn’t know what it would be like, but we wanted to participate with the new folks we’d met through NWEI. We learned some new skills, like ditch digging, and got our windows washed once a year! But the best part was sharing – sharing the work load, sharing stories, sharing skills, sharing food, sharing common values. It was amazing how fast the three hours passed while we were all engaged helping each other.
What does this experience have to do with waste reduction?
- We established relationships that led to cooperation including sharing tools. How many of us buy a tool that might get used once every year or two? Sharing tools not only saves you having to spend your money, it also keeps more tools from having to be manufactured in the first place, meaning fewer resources being extracted, less energy used in the manufacture, and less fuel to transport.
- We were able to get the chores and projects done without having to hire someone else to do them. I do believe in contributing to the local economy, but if you can save your money to pay for the things you cannot do yourself, that seems most practical.
- As in the past, working together lightened the load. We knew we could rely on each other even beyond the work party hours.
What would you like help with at your home? Just think of what can be accomplished in a few hours when you have friends and neighbors working with you. I heartily recommend you give a work party a try. Adapt it to the needs of your group. Word of advice: One woman said that her work party met weekly, but then the people burned out. Make the schedule doable for folks so that it’s a pleasure and not a burden. Now, go make a list of what you need to have done.