A Green-Friendly Shopping ExcursionBy: Jacqueline Thompson Graves
After all, a girl's gotta shop, right? Occasionally I run into a woman who doesn't like to shop, but I always count that as a quirk of nature, like someone born with an extra toe. These things happen. And besides, that just leaves more bargains for the rest of us.
But with focus on caring for the planet, the endless cycle of replacing one's closet season after season has come under fire. If even a percentage of American women purge just part of their wardrobe every year, that still creates a huge pile of garments sitting by the curb waiting to be hauled off to the country's landfills. Yet surely no one expects us to wear the same old clothes until they actually wear out! Why that could take years, with us toddling around in the same outfits while others parade new getups straight from the NYC runways. Say it ain't so, Joe!
As with all things earth-friendly, the "R's" come in handy here, too, when we repair, reuse and recycle our clothing. The trick to busting boredom is to trade clothes with someone else, just like we did in college.
A clothing swap comes with everyone's favorite price tag and gives you an excuse to throw a party. We have the East Coast as well as the West Coast directions for hosting a clothing swap online. Either way, you and your friends will go home with new stuff and no new credit card debt. Got friends of all different sizes? Just swap accessories or swap home decorating items.
Probably everyone has stepped inside a consignment shop before such as Jodi's Clozet, right here in town. Now, more than ever, these treasure troves offer almost new shopping for a fraction of a new price tag. Some consignment shops specialize in clothing, while others offer home furnishings and décor items. Children's clothing can be an attractive buy compared to new prices, especially on name brand items. Find a consignment shop you like and keep going back since prices are usually adjusted down every 30 days.
Thrift stores can be hit or miss, but I hit a lot. Sure there is a lot of junk there, but have you seen my 100% silk dress by Donna Morgan Petites? It is fully lined, with tiny covered buttons all the way down the back. When I bought it, it still had all the tags on it. It was marked $12.99, but I got it for half that, since I always shop at the Last Chance Thrift Shop on Beaver Ruin Road on Mondays when everything is half price. Many thrift stores offer everything, including the kitchen sink - household goods, furniture, books, toys, electronics, linens, home décor, shoes, jewelry, collectibles, antiques and vintage items, basically whatever has been dropped off at their donation site. Most of them are run on behalf of a charity or not for profit organization, so your purchases are helping someone help someone. Thrift stores tend to have an influx of donations on the weekend, so the first part of the week is the best time to go searching for new arrivals.
Flea markets are another source for "stuff", although you will probably find more for your home than your closet. If you like vintage clothing, this just may be your market. I find goodies, especially accessories, in the least likely places. Your best bets for a good buy are not the big, sprawling, well-advertised flea markets, but the smaller, out of the way, overlooked ones.
If you are handy with a needle and thread or a machine, you may be surprised what you can do with someone's old castoffs (or even your own). Move that hemline up or down two or three inches and see an old dress or skirt come to life. Is it too short? Add a wide piece of lace or funky ruffle to a skirt and you have a whole new look. Got an old jacket with good lines, but scuffed up buttons or boring old gold ones? Replace them with something cool and see that jacket perk up.
You can do the same with much around the house. Sometimes reupholstering a piece of furniture is hard work, but much of the time it is as simple as tearing off the old fabric, stapling on the new and gluing trim to cover the staples.
Of course, no one expects us gals to stop shopping. That would be ridiculous and it wouldn't be good for the economy, anyway. But we can save some green and go green at the same time. The real fun of shopping is spending time with the girlfriends and escaping for a few hours. With the money you save, you can make a donation to your favorite charity.
© 2009 Jacqueline Thompson Graves
Visit our Online Exclusives for directions on hosting your own Clothing Swap in either the detailed East Coast version or the anything goes West Coast scenario. We also have this month's Take A Hike online... click here to read more.
What do you like to do outdoors? Drop me an email and share your favorite activity or place to go. firstname.lastname@example.org