Monday, June 26, 2006

Comfy In More Ways Than One

Today I made the trip to our local thrift store. I hadn't been in quite awhile, what with one thing and another, I hadn't made the time. But today found me with a free morning and a willing Daddy to babysit, so off I went! I browsed through the children's clothes (always my first stop), found a cute jumper to put away for Peanut, and then I moseyed on over to the women's section. As I flipped through the double-knit pantsuits and stained turtlenecks, I started to lose hope that this trip would yield any fruit. And then I found it.

The Holy Grail of thrift store finds.

The Favorite Shirt.

It was a button-down-combed-cotton
perfect-shade-of-froggy-green-sleeves-roll-up-just-right dream of a shirt.

And it was half price!

I was in love! I snatched it up, rushed home, threw it in the washer, and I am wearing it right now. It is as comfortable as I knew it would be. And it clashes just right with my favorite pair of hanging around the house pink yoga pants.

I love the thrift store!

But I know not everyone does. I often hear shocked statements of disgust from people, including my own family, about the questionablility of wearing someone else's clothes. "How can you wear something that once belonged to a complete stranger?" "Why would you want to buy old, used, clothes?"

Why indeed?

For me, there are a couple of reasons that I shop thrift stores and garage sales for clothing. First and foremost is the price. I am not especially picky about things that don't matter to me, and clothing is not very high on my list of interest. I've never been a label slave, I don't care if I'm wearing the latest look, and I don't especially feel inclined to pay four times as much for an item just to have the privilege of being a walking billboard offering free publicity for some designer or company.

I do like to look neat and tidy. I do like for my clothes to be comfortable. And I do believe in looking put together. All of these things can be achieved at second-hand clothing stores.

Another reason that I shop at thrift stores is for the reduce/reuse/recycle aspect. America is the #1 trash producing country in the world. We throw away an average of 1609 pounds of garbage per person, per year. That means that in one year, an average family of four produces a little over three tons of garbage! ONE FAMILY=3 TONS! and one third of that amount is packaging from new items.

Every shirt that I buy used, but still usable, is one more that I won't be buying retail. Which is one more that the huge clothing manufacturers will not be selling. Which is one more that they will not have to make. Which is that much energy that was saved and that much cloth that wasn't sent to a landfill. And you may say that my one little shirt does not make a enough difference to matter, but I will say to you that my one shirt, plus your one shirt, plus her one shirt, plus his one shirt, all across the world, would make a difference. And it all starts with my one comfortable shirt.

Now I didn't start this post to rant about the state of our garbage problems here in the U.S. I really did only mean to tell you all about my comfy new shirt. But maybe the next time you are thinking of buying something new, with all of it's packaging and advertising, and waste producing manufacturing processes, perhaps you'll make a sidestop at you local thrift store first.

Who knows? Maybe you'll find your own favorite shirt!


Happy Housewife said...

Very good thoughts, i-Mom. Thank You.

Recently, they ran this program on Discovery channel about the problem of landfills and the very same thought occured to me - wouldn't it make a difference if each of us took just one step towards it? Any step that is comfortable for you is fine, as long as you consistently do it - a little goes a long way.

In my household, we don't buy garbage bags. We use the plastic bags from our weekly Meijer shopping. We also use the catalogue papers/pamphlets that come in the mail as 'table cloth', shelf liners and book covers. And we try to use hand-me-downs too. :-) It isn't much, but it is one tiny step.

thicket dweller said...

Wonderful thoughts! I LOVE thrift shopping, too, for all of the reasons you listed, PLUS I think it's there that I find the ultimate in unique fashion. Retro, classic, fun and functional. Thrift shopping ROCKS!

The Happy Housewife said...

With 4 growing boys, I am a firm advocate of second-hand and recycled clothes! I have a series of suitcases in the attic, all labelled up from newborn to 16 years, and the boys progress from one case to the next! We are positively delighted when friends or relatives donate some more goodies. You can't be proud or wasteful when the boys wear something for such a short amount of time. The only other option is to stop feeding them...