Thursday, April 22, 2010

Clear Out a Closet, Help Save the Earth

"Topshop and H&M pump out stylish, low-cost items meant to be worn for a season, then thrown away," observed a New York Times article on the success of PeopleStyle Watch magazine, and the lower cost fashions it features.

Thrown away. See the trend we're on for Earth Day week? Disposable beverage containers. Disposable home goods. Disposable electronics. Why not disposable clothes too?

With that in mind, my two co-workers and I held our spring clothing swap at work so people's unwanted clothes could find a more welcoming home than a landfill.

We offered light refreshments. From wallet-friendly Trader Joe's: organic pink lemonade and 'Arnold Palmers' (half iced tea, half lemonade) and clementines. We also offered vegan vanilla creme cookies.

So many clothes! Items of the season: we got an abundance of tops, but also had dresses, pants, shorts and skirts.

We were happy a variety of sizes were offered, but there was definitely an abundance of smaller sizes. It's a challenge. You can't force anyone to donate. We're thrilled people are donating at all.

We also had the most clothes we’ve ever had with the original tags still on them.

So that all sizes can find something, unwanted beauty products, jewelry and accessories were included. Some brand new Bath and Body Works lotion and hand soap were scooped up, and a gorgeous beaded royal blue necklace went before I could even photograph it.

Books and a small sampling of jewelry.

Cute new and gently used shoes. I'm a ballet flats woman. Not my size.

These Bandolino shoes appear to have never been worn.

And so much leftover! This was just some of our donations. In New Jersey, we donated to the C.A.T.S. Resale Shop in Westwood to benefit homeless cats and dogs, and the This-n-That Thrift Shop in Hillsdale, where items will be marked to benefit Shelter Our Sisters. We donated some unseasonable items to a nearby New York City Salvation Army, which is much larger and can accommodate all kinds of donations.

This is the first swap where I didn't take anything. Unless I really love something, even if it's free or from thrift, I'm leaving it in the universe for someone else.

While clearing out a closet and passing on items to a family member or friend, a charitable thrift store or even selling it might not qualify as what most people think of as 'green', to me it is very much so an environmental act. New production of an item will now not be needed since someone else can use what's already produced. And it makes green living accessible to every income.

Happy Earth Day!


MaddyG said...

Yay for you and your co-workers! What an awesome idea. You've inspired me to try to get my fellow co-op moms to do the same. Do you have any advice or tips for organizing such an endeavor? ; )

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

How great to hear! We do one every season and make no rules. It's literally bring and take whatever you like. My only advice is to not just do clothes/shoes and include the items I mentioned: accessories (i.e. bags, sunglasses, jewelry, hats), unwanted beauty products, gift items, etc. You can include baby/children's clothes and maternity clothes too.

You can offer light refreshments, or do pot-luck. Music would be fun too!

It's so rewarding to see the joy on people's faces when they find something they love for free that someone else didn't want. Have fun!