Returning the ball

I was out in the park playing football with my son the other day and I noticed that every time the ball went off track someone walking past would return it (or try to). 
It didn’t matter how young or old they were or whether they were a guy or a girl, they all did it, apart from one lady who had some earphones in and didn’t even notice the ball.
One guy looked like he really wanted to join in the game racing for the ball a couple of times.  He was walking past with his two little girls, neither of which could be convinced to join in…
We didn’t ask them to do it, they didn’t expect anything in return, they just did it to be kind and I think most people would do the same. It definitely made our game of football easier and more fun.  
Wouldn’t it be great if life was always like that – if people always ‘returned the ball’.  If we could always count on others to be there for us when we needed them. 
  • If when we needed a seat on the bus, a stranger would stand up for us,
  • if our car had broken down another driver would stop and help us
  • if we had no time to look after our garden, a neighbour would mow the lawn for us
  • if we wanted to learn how to play the violin, a friend would offer to teach it to us.
  • if we needed some new sofas an acquaintance would offer to pass on their old ones
  • If our home was ruined by flooding that a family in our town would offer to take us in until we were able to return home
  • If our life savings were stolen that they would be replaced by kind friends, neighbours and even strangers.
If whenever we wanted or needed something, someone else would willingly offer to help just to be kind without any expectation of receiving something in return then we wouldn’t need insurance, we wouldn’t need those savings that were stolen, or need to steal anyone’s savings and we wouldn’t need to stockpile food or stuff.  We would all share more, we would all waste less and we would be living far more sustainable lives. Instead of every home in suburbia owning a lawnmower, a screwdriver, a ladder and all the things that are repeated over and over again in homes around the country, which are so rarely used, there would be one per street or every few streets…
If you are thinking well I do want to learn violin, but don’t know any violin teachers, or I do need some new sofas, but none of my friends or family have any going spare, or even I would like to share my screwdriver with my neighbours but don’t know any of them to speak to, then check out Streetbank, Favabank, Ecomodo, Freegle, Freecycle and Flooting, which are just some of the giving and sharing websites out there.

All we need to do is change our perception of things a little and decide that sharing our skills, time and things with other people is a bit like returning the ball – something which is normal, natural and even pleasurable. Then we will have a hope of life on this planet being sustainable in the future…

Sustainable gift wrap course

I am currently undertaking a Year of Eco Challenges . If you have a moment I would really appreciate it if you would consider sponsoring me with an action on my DoNation page. Also if you liked this post please click like on Facebook and follow on Twitter – thanks so much


  1. A bit like 'love your neighbour as you love yourself'? There was this bloke about 2000 years ago who went around saying stuff like that. He's not all that popular nowadays (or back then, for that matter), and if I mention him in conversation people think I'm a total nutcase, even though many of them are (ostensibly) celebrating his birth tomorrow 😉
    That said, there was another bloke a few hundred years before that who said 'there is nothing new under the sun' and while I wholeheartedly agree with what you've written, I can't help but think that people won't change until it's too late. But it doesn't stop me trying and I take my hat off to you for trying. Never give up. You're inspirational. Season's greetings to you and yours x

  2. Zoe

    Thanks for your comment Sandy. I know I wasn't saying anything new, but I have had a shift in perception. I used to think that there was more value in giving my unwanted stuff to charity than in giving it away for free to someone directly. I felt the charities needed it more than anyone I knew. Now I would probably prefer to give my stuff to someone directly over giving it to charity to be sold, as if we all did that it could bring about massive cultural change. Yes I do realise it sounds very idealistic, but actually I think it is a realistic and necessary way forward if we want to keep on living on this planet. I have to hope that people will start to see that before it is too late and like you all I can do is try to change things. Season's greetings to you too!

  3. I would like to apologise. The above wasn't meant to read as negative towards you – any negativity was just general frustration at how we as human beings treat one another and the planet. It stirred up memories of when I was in desperate circumstances and the people that were supposed to help not only didn't but kicked me while I was down. Anyway… Life goes on. I really do believe the idea that change starts within ourselves (and by our example to our children). And I mean it when I say your blog is inspirational. You're already taking the steps which I see myself taking in the next months and years. I've already started making my own shampoo and laundry liquid and you've really made me think about packaging in a way I had not done before.

  4. Zoe

    No need to apologise Sandy, I know you weren't being negative towards me. Sorry if my comment made you think I was upset. Thanks for your kind words and I'm sorry to hear about your bad experiences.

  5. Totally agree!

    I'd like to think that in general people are still kind and charitable. Or at least it's 50/50 anyway 🙂

    I think part of the issue is the way mainstream news is broadcast / printed etc, it's generally all about nasty stuff happening and how people are always on the take – look at the glut of recent "reality tv shows" about people on benefits etc. They pick out some of the most outrageously self entitled people to focus on the show to get the ratings up.

    I avoid as much of that nonsense as possible and focus on what I see in real life and it is actually still a nice friendly world out there. Using Freecycle a few times was really good fun and shows you how giving and how grateful people can be (I accepted and gave a few gifts)

    I hadn't heard about those other sites you mentioned above… will check them out, thanks!

Comments are closed.