Saturday, November 28, 2015

Clothing: What to do with it all?

After writing a column in this morning's paper about a women's clothing swap - people bring what they want, take what they want and, along the way, make a donation to charity if they want - I was so impressed that I went through my drawers and closet this weekend.

Clothing: What to do with it all?


I tried. Honest I did. I had the best of intentions.

After writing a column in this morning’s paper about a women’s clothing swap — people bring what they want, take what they want and, along the way, make a donation to charity if they want — I was so impressed that I went through my drawers and closet this weekend.

I found some things to contribute. But not nearly as much as I had thought.

I kept getting caught up in the notion of thrift. I can’t tell you how many things I saved because they “almost” fit. If I really do lose those pounds I’ve been intending to, I’d kick myself for getting rid of the clothes I’d need. What sense does it make to give them away and then buy more? How does that rate as being green?

Other stuff, I felt was just to ratty to offer. But I fully intend to keep wearing it myself. I’m not sure what that means, either.

I wonder if the women who run the event — being held this Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Germantown Jewish Centre, 400 W. Ellet St. — simply feel differently about clothes. I wonder if participating for a few years doesn’t give them an easy-come, easy-go attitude that makes it easier to let clothes go.

The exercise made me recall a story that shows just how worthwhile giving away clothes can be. And how one woman’s cast-off might be another woman’s treasure.

The year was 1975, and my husband and I were traveling in Africa. After some months, we wound up in Tanzania, where we met and became friends with a missionary nun.

At one point, a young couple she knew was getting married, she was going to the wedding, and she asked if we wanted to come as well. You bet.

It was a wonderful event for so many reasons, and even now it remains a vivid memory.

But related to the topic of the moment: The nun’s mother had sent some cast-off clothes, and among them was a bright pink bathrobe.

The women at the wedding were glorious in the colors they wore — the grandmother of the bride, in particular, whose head and torso were swathed with cloth of an intricate green and gold print.

The basis of her ensemble was the pink bathrobe.

Say what you will. For her, it wasn’t unusual. It was the perfect color. She danced with the other women and joined their joyful ululation — the high-pitched trilling sound women in some cultures make.

She was gorgeous, and I challenge you to come up with a better use for that robe.

Inquirer GreenSpace Columnist
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Our panel of experts, in partnership with My MilkCrate, will offer information on how to live sustainably and reduce your carbon footprint. We'll be featuring sustainable businesses, steering you toward green local events, and catching up with Philadelphians who we consider green-living gurus.

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Sandy Bauers Inquirer GreenSpace Columnist
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