Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Mystery of Old T-shirts by Mar Preston

I’ve read that Paris Hilton wears a T-shirt once, has it dry cleaned, and after the second time she wears it she gives it away. I wonder where it goes. Her staff? Her cleaning ladies? Charity?

Ah, charity. The Mountain Communities SPCA has a Thrift Store in Frazier Park near where I live, and we get T-shirts. Every day people swing into the store with big black plastic bags of stuff, including hundreds of stuffed animals, jeans, shirts—and  T-shirts. There are enough jeans donated that nobody in the entire world needs to buy a new pair of jeans.

Selling their donations makes possible the spay/neuter of cats and dogs which reduce the misery, both human and animal, of unwanted kittens and puppies.

Until I began volunteering in the SPCA Thrift Shop, I felt virtuous bagging up my unwanted clothes—my stuff—and taking it into a good cause thrift shop.  I dumped it off, claimed the donation slip, and argued with myself about what to put down for a tax deduction. Surely that bag of perfectly good clothes and a chipped tea pot was worth twenty dollars.

 Every economist pundit should spend time digging through black plastic bags in a thrift shop. There is absolutely no relationship between price and value.  None.

You are sentimentally attached to that Long Beach Blues Festival ’89 T-shirt.  There’s plenty of good wear in it. You paid $15 for it, when $15 was a hunk of money to lay down for a T-shirt.  Hate to tell you this, but we can’t even sell that T-shirt.

I would imagine that every thrift shop is constantly on the look out for homeless shelters and churches who accept donations of stuff that we can’t sell and we can’t store.

A young family who shopped in the store moved to Norway.  They live according to the Three Rs:  Reduce (buy less); Reuse (extend the clothing lifespan);  and Recycle (polish your car with that old T-shirt). They thrift shop, they make do, they do without.

One of their little boys noticed that their friends have “shiny things.” Maybe it’s because the paint or the finish has rubbed off the old toys these boys play with?

Their parents explain the 3rs, that in their family this is the way they do things. Handling Mother Earth with gentleness and respect is what they do in their family. Other families do what works for them.

 What do you think of the Three Rs?


Anonymous said...

Hooray for this post. For years the majority has come from a local thrift shop. Yes, even a few of my hats! Thanks, Mar. Radine

Anonymous said...

I meant the majority of my wardrobe!

Anonymous said...

Hooray for this post. For years the majority has come from a local thrift shop. Yes, even a few of my hats! Thanks, Mar. Radine

Mar Preston said...

Ah, yes. Me too. That's why I enjoy working there. I get first pick. I can't imagine buying everything new. Every item in my house has a story.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I can't stand Thrift Shops, the 99 cent store or sales. My mother drug me around to all these type of places and to this day, I won't go in them unless I have to. It just looks like junk to me. My daughter can find treasures in all these places.

Morgan Mandel said...

Since being retired from my day job, I've reduced by spending for clothes. I have so many I never get to use! And, if I like particular outfits, I tend to reuse them. We use old towels and tee shirts for polishing the car, though I admit we don't polish very often!

Also, the DH has tons of tee shirts he's saved and wears for particular occasions, because he can't bear to part with them.