A sampling of the bounty now NOT in the landfill:
For my mom: UGG boots (something she wouldn't buy new, but used, in good condition and free, yes!), several pairs of summer and winter shoes (she was actually shopping for the summer sandals and didn't have to spend a dime), some scarves and two tops.
For me: An Eiffel Tower decoration (what a lucky find for a Francophile!), a beautiful Irish wool sweater and matching scarf for winter, several tops, two handbags (I looked up one that said they retail for $1100, but I'm unclear if it's a copy), a beach towel, a blue throw blanket for our bedroom, brown suede boots, and more.
For my sister: A whole new summer wardrobe. I loved how she put it, "Who needs to shop when I have you?!"
My seasonal clothing swap: various sports shirts, Seven brand jeans, bags, other clothes. I co-organize four swaps a year at work, and much of what I brought was scooped up, the rest donated to one of our charities, including Housing Works Thrift Shops which helps out HIV positive and homeless New Yorkers.
Charity shops: The majority of it went to the Goodwill in Paramus, New Jersey, since they could handle the volume and it was convenient to drop-off, but some also went to CATS Resale Shop in Emerson, NJ and Cinema Verite in New York City.
Steve thought I was nuts, but I washed everything we found (except for some items that had tags on it, which gives them a higher resale value). I didn't know where it was stored or if it was clean, so in good faith all my clothing donations were freshly laundered. You don't want to go into the landfill Elmo, do you? No way, let's go to the Goodwill!
WalMart is running ads about their low-price guarantee. Why is it okay that we brag about low prices on some items (never mind no questions asked about how our food, clothes and other items are produced), but there's shame associated with getting something at a swap or from the Goodwill? Steve and I attend a black tie dinner each year with his chef's group, and this year I was thrilled to find a vintage dress at an estate sale for about $10. I got so many compliments that evening and he kept saying don't tell them where it's from, but I'm proud of who I am. I didn't go to Nordstrom and spend $200 for some Chinese made dress. I recycled and I got a huge savings.
Retail therapy, America needs it for sure. Just not what the traditional retailers want.
I tried to plant a seed with the woman throwing it out. She came up with excuses about hearing the Goodwill or other places shreds things for rags. Even if they do that with a minority of items, at least it's being reused. I just wore at our Independence Day bbq a cute Old Navy summer dress from the Goodwill I paid about $6.50 for. I assure you that wasn't shredded for rags, and I'm so glad its previous owner took the time to drop it off. When I don't want it anymore, I'll give it, not throw it, away. When I mentioned what a shame it was so much was made in China and other countries, she said there's no way around it. This consumer respectfully disagrees. This isn't about being perfect and making ideal choices all the time, but I largely don't give these companies my money. Yes, sometimes I do, but mostly I swap. I rescue from the curb. I thrift shop or go to garage sales. I vote using (and not using) my dollar.
Please share your thoughts in the comments section about the epidemic of waste going into American landfills, and how we can solve it.
Find a charity shop near you at the TheThriftShopper.com.
Find a Freecycle. group near you
Shop estate sales (where the entire contents of a house are for sale). Find one near you.