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Green challenges

Thinking global and acting local, Julie Grundy takes on any challenge we throw at her.

How to volunteer when you're very busy

Ian Kiernan

Credit: Clean Up Australia

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We all lead pretty busy lives these days. Between working, taking care of family and catching up with friends, it’s hard to find time to volunteer, even when you know there’s good causes out there.

But don’t let that stop you! There are plenty of one-day events that are organised by someone else, and all you have to do is show up on time for one day of work. I really enjoy these sorts of projects and think they’re a lot of fun. I reckon they work best when you can register ahead of time. Usually they give an email address or a form on their website so you can do this, and it really helps the organisers out because then they can plan for the right number of people.

Some of the one-day events have been going for years, others are still new. Here are some of my favourites - if you know of more, please leave a comment below to tell me about it!

  • National Tree Day - you can never have too many trees! Wear gumboots in the mud as you plant trees in wetlands areas, or go on a farm expedition to help revegetate Australia.
  • Clean Up Australia Day - until we fix the waste and recycling problem, we need to regularly tidy up the mess people leave behind.
  • Earth Hour - sure, you could just turn off your lights at home, but that’s too easy. Why not help organise a community party for everyone to join in?
  • Walk to Work and Ride to Work days - these usually happen in spring, and are a good chance to introduce people to the car-free idea by helping them get organised for their own journey.

When I go to events like these, I meet such great people. There’s a real sense of accomplishment as you finish your project, and satisfaction when you see it reported in the news later on.

Today’s volunteer opportunity
This one is only for young people in Perth, but I’m sure the organisers would love to see new groups start in other places. Big Help Mob is a group of 200 teens who get together for one-day events where they help out non-profits in the morning, then do something creative in the afternoon to draw attention to a good cause. Their most recent activity was helping at an aged-care facility, then giving public transport users the red carpet treatment. Their enthusiasm is infectious!