Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Waste Not, Want Not Part II


While scanning Yahoo!news bits the other day I stumbled upon a link about David's Bridal Wear Shops going out of business and the outrage from the public when they discovered dresses that hadn't sold had been hit with hot pink spray paint to deface them and the dresses tossed.  The company, in response, stated that only dresses that had been damaged in some way and were unrepairable had been treated in such a manner, but eye witnesses said the dresses were perfect save the permanent pink paint.

Why hadn't these dresses been donated, the company was asked.  To protect licensing agreements and copyrights issued by designers.  The same article also stated that H&M stores and Walmart had been guilty of the same until outcries reached corporate headquarters.  50'sGal @50's Times blog mentioned in an older post that she worked, once upon a time, in retail clothing and it was standard practice to shred and destroy pieces that had not sold on the clearance racks.

The waste of it all sickens me.  Whatever happened to donating goods to the less fortunate?  Or even donating for a tax write off to charity shops?  What about wonderful charity programs that outfit girls for proms, or Dress For Success programs?  And it is licensing agreements then go ahead and spray paint the things but why not pass along to a pet shelter that could use the items as bedding?

In my great grandmother's day scraps were saved from every dress and shirt and pants made by her hands and sewn into quilts such as the one above.  Even less lovely pieces made serviceable scrap quilts.  Since the majority of both my grandmother's childhood clothing pieces were made from cotton flour sacks, I can only imagine what joy they might have had over store bought or hand me down dresses.

I'll not just point my finger in the direction of the big name stores who destroy clothing either.  What about those of us who have closets and drawers filled with unworn, unwanted pieces?  Gracious some of us have held onto pieces until they were in style again.  Now you could resell them as vintage pieces!

During my recent weekend of illness and daytime tv, I happened to catch several home realty programs.  Over and over again I heard women who said "But that closet isn't big enough to hold all my clothes..." and they were speaking of a closet that was the size of my spare bedroom, which is a decent sized room.  Do we NEED that many clothes?  Really?  Even if you live in an area with actual seasons, I'm willing to bet serious culling could go on in those closets.  One girl proudly announced that she spent around $26,000 a year on clothes shopping alone.

When Zooey Deschanel, actress and singer, filed financial statements for a divorce suit, the press was all too happy to report it to the public.  The singer, who earns $95,000 per episode for her current employment stated that she had $0 credit card debt, a paid mortgage and spent roughly $2000 a month on clothing and $600 a month on dry cleaning.  The press went nuts over those last two figures.  The girl who so proudly announced she spent around $26,000 a year on clothes was spending more than Deschanel and not earning anywhere near the same figures annually. 

I can't help but contrast this with what my grandmother's told me was usual for their clothing needs as they grew up.  One dress to wear to school, one dress to wear at home for house and field work and one dress for Sunday and both counted themselves fortunate to have three dresses as many of their acquaintance had only two.  This also accounts for the seeming lack of closets in many older more modest homes.  Generally speaking a hook or two behind a curtained corner comprised the closet and held all that was needed.  And when a dress was finally outgrown it was passed down to a younger sibling or cut into pieces to be used as braided rugs, quilting pieces or torn apart and the larger better pieces of fabric used to make 'new' clothes for another child in the family.

I confess at this time I have far more clothes than I've had in years upon years.  I wear clothing for two years or more average (sometimes longer).  If I find I don't wear a piece, I generally cull it for donation if it is nice.  If I pull something that has been worn too often and is looking shabby it goes into the 'at home' drawer and I wear it while attending to household chores, gardening and yardwork.  When shirts become too stained to be used at home, as they do, then I save them.  Why?  Because the fabric on the back of the shirt is unstained and often in good condition.  The stained sections make great bedding for my dogs and cats.  Were I more enterprising and had the need, I might turn them into cloth diapers, scrap quilts, rags for messy jobs, etc.  Those unstained backs?  I actually have plans for those that I think will put the good fabric to good uses.

One of my favorite bloggers is New Dress A Day...This enterprising young woman takes thrift store finds and turns them into new pieces through alterations.  She began this project when she was unemployed and needed something to fill her time.  Her inspiration was a bin of clothes for $1 each at a thrift store.  Most people gazed in and saw outdated clothing.  She, being a seamstress and something of a clothes horse saw potential new clothing in wonderful unique fabrics.  http://www.newdressaday.com/

While most of her pieces are simply altered, I am reminded of a feature from the vintage Woman's Day magazines that ran throughout the '40's and '50's.  The magazine showcased how clothing, sheets, curtains, and even bedskirts and bed spreads were used to make new pieces of clothing for family members, upholstery for furnishings, etc.  Even sweaters were used and at times yarn was unraveled, washed and reused to knit new items.    It was a great use of "Make Do, Use It Up" thinking.  Something that I think we could all use a good dose of these days as well.  This blogger also has that "Make Do, Use It Up" mentality for old clothes:


 http://zeahrenaissance.blogspot.com/2011/01/man-sweater-to-baby-suit-mini-tute.html

I was pretty proud of my friend over at The Bon Bon Club when she fashioned tote bags from old t-shirts and tank tops this month.  She used her bags to gather similar items in her freezer, but mentioned they would make great shopping bags, etc. 
   http://thebonbonclub.blogspot.com/2012/01/make-do-monday.html

These are just a few ideas for using extra clothing pieces.  I'm going to be eliminating some of my 'at home' and 'good' clothes next month.  I wonder if I can come up with a Make Do and Mend project out of some of those pieces?  Waste not, want not, right?

1 comment:

Deanna said...

I have the same reaction to those huge, room-size closets. I have no desire to own that many clothes.

I cut up old t-shirts for rags, something especially useful since I quit buying paper towels. I'm not a seamstress so that's the best I can do. ;)