Six ethical ways to minimise your baggage at the end of your working holiday visa.
Updated: Apr 13
So you’ve been in Australia for a year on a working holiday visa. You have hardly any stuff, right? You arrived with just a backpack and a thrill for life
.... until you begin to pack up and realise that lamp, that rug those books... aha! Suddenly your backpack doesn’t cut it & you’ve got an apartments worth of stuff to fit into your 20kg luggage allowance. Don’t feel guilty. Living in a country is certainly different to passing through, it’s easy to accidentally accumulate stuff... we all do it.
By the way, these steps are all really useful for other life problems, like moving out, downsizing, minimalizing...
So what are the most cost effective eco friendly alternatives to dropping the stuff you won’t need on your next stop?
1. Gumtree, Buy Sell Swap, eBay. The benefit of selling is of course you make some money back and you give everything another life. It's all a part of this circular economy!
So, whilst I'm not a fan of buy sell swap sites on Facebook (I got about 30 messages on a shoes post, a message saying I had nice feet... and still didn’t sell).
Gumtree is my personal favourite, eBay is good but has fees.
2. Charity Shops. Clothes, books, furniture to larger stores. All can be donated. Make sure you’re donating something YOU would buy- ie don’t donate crap. This is an incredible way to avoid landfill and give back to a great cause.
3. Give it to friends, housemates or fellow travelers. Save them buying more and some landfill space and gift it on.
4. Switch. Take it, loose something else. If you can’t bear to let your hairdryer go, get rid of something else to make space. Use up your shampoo and take solid shampoos bars, they take up heaps less space.
5. Old pair of sentimental jeans that you want a memento of or just a worn top? Cut a patch, make a pouch, upcycle it or just keep it loose and recycle the rest. Old t-shirts make awesome bags for sorting out backpacks whilst travelling.
6. Use it up! This is a huge one for the toiletries lovers. Use up your bottles and jars of concoctions before you toss them out! It’s an unbelievable waste to chuck them in the bin just to make space in your bag. Use them up, or gift them on to a another traveler who would love your products and to save some money. By being strict with yourself with using up things, you’ll learn to buy less in the future.
Cheeky extra point: 7 Reflect on how little you’ll need. And how little you want and don’t do it again. Because buying and getting rid of things you’ve worked hard to buy, is painful. Don’t repeat the process and learn to only buy what you really really need.
How did we do it?
We followed the principles of this list. We bought very little for our apartment in Melbourne whilst we lived here. We were here for 8 months living a settled 9-5 life, so even though we didn’t buy much we still accumulated a lot of hand me downs, “nature collections” and sentimental stuff. Firstly, we committed to recycling, repurposing or passing on as much as possible. We sold our sofas, our bed and most of our white goods. This way all of these items are being reused, saved from faster end of life, made us some money and gave someone else a good deal. We gave absolutely heaps of glassware (that was already a hand me down!) to the lovely Salvos store two doors down. We recycled our glass jars that I had painfully saved from olives and jams, reused lots but couldn't take in my suitcase 😭
We gave lots of things away, we wanted things to get another life instead of sitting in a bin! Naturey things I’d collected, went back to where we got them from. Banksia pods I collected are going back to the Bush for example. I really thought out our food, and we ate through the cupboard (not literally..) in the lead up to move, making sure we didn’t have any food left- and none got wasted. This was a bit of a knack, did involve some initiative and some rather peculiar dinners but was super satisfying when we’d used everything up. (We ate our last few dinners out, because honestly who wants to cook after a stressful days packing).