Sunday, April 22, 2018

Trash to Treasure

This part was written on Friday night:

Our ward is having a Trading Tables event tomorrow, which I suppose they're technically calling a Clothing Exchange (or something). I wasn't in charge of it, which was a nice change after heading it up for the last five years! But I've forgotten how nice they are for a cheapskate like me.

Instead of meeting the morning of to sort through things and then "shop" right away, we brought things in this evening to sort...but we also "shopped" a bit as we sorted. Some of us "shopped"...a lot. I always do. But, seriously, I took over five bags of cast-offs and only returned home with two. So, I mean, that's pretty good.

Treasures from this swap meet included a Jedi robe and pirate ship for Benjamin (boy hand-me-downs are, rather unfortunately, in short supply, probably because the potential pool for handing things down are rough on clothes (I'm not going to have much of anything to hand down to Alexander from Benjamin because he is so hard on his clothes)); sparkly church shoes and a pair of brown boots for both Miriam and Zoë (they are excited to be footwear twins) and a pair of Frozen-themed shoes for Zoë; a couple of pairs of jeans for Rachel; and a few shirts for me. I brought home about as many books as I dropped off (but that's fine; it's like circulating our collection) and got some new baby toys for Alexander (it's also nice to have a bit of a rotation in that department).


This part was written on Saturday night:

I took the kids back over this morning because they wanted to do a little "shopping" for themselves. I found some new jeans for me (yippee!) and even a pair of jeans for Benjamin. Benjamin found a little ride-on toy for Alexander, the girls found a Frozen nightgown for Zoë and a few things for themselves. Oh, and I found a peacoat (I've wanted one for years (probably over a decade))!

Can't beat the price of free!

Once, years ago, Andrew posted on Facebook about insurance woes (because, let's face it, sometimes insurance/medical bills simply are cringeworthy) and this woman we had known in Egypt popped on to snap, "Oh, what couldn't you get for free this time?!"

I wish I could be the kind of person to let cutting remarks like that just roll off my back, but they tend to stick with me for a while. I'd had quite a few abrasive run-ins with this particular person (though, to be fair, I also have some warm, friendly memories of her as well) so I could hear her voice in my head chiding me when I read her words.

I hadn't realized my frugality had been such an annoyance to her (especially because we didn't precisely travel in the same social circle—what with her being the empty-nester wife of a very-well-near oil tycoon and me being the young-mother wife of a poor-as-a-graduate-student-mouse husband). It's true that we'd vulturously spring to enjoy the cast-offs of expats departing the country (like, "What? You're moving and you would like to me take the contents of your pantry? Yes, please, because we've been eating nothing but ramen for the last three weeks!") and it's true that we always had to ask about the cost of an excursion before joining in (like, "Oh, you're staying at the fanciest hotel in Sharm? Yeah, we're prolly going to have to pass on that one...") and it's true that the only people who ever babysat our kids did so on exchange (they got to use our internet/washing machine whenever they wanted) and it's also true that we tutored/babysat people's children in exchange for groceries (and the key to one family's villa on the Ain Sokhna (the definitely-not-Sharm-el-Sheik of the Red Sea))...but we always brought a dish to potluck dinners at the church so I don't know why she was so bent out of shape over our finances.

Over the years, however, I think I've come to appreciate the value of "free" a little bit more (our budgeting motto for the past entirety of our married life has been "spend nothing, ever," so we're pretty used to being poorish by now). Let her rant about our thriftiness all she wants. Part of the beauty of the new-to-me jeans I'm wearing today is their price tag, I'm just sayin'...

But it's not like they were entirely free because organizing a swap meet is really quite a bit of work. Here's me (with Alexander napping in the front carrier) and Rachel and another woman in the ward putting away some tables at the end of the day:

Those are not the pants I found at trading tables
Another benefit (I mean, besides being free) to shopping from others cast-offs is that it helps reduce clothing waste, which is kind of a huge deal. The leftovers are sent to goodwill where they'll either be sold to the community (we can hope because there were some cute, brand new baby clothes that no one picked up today) or recycled (both Tabitha's Way and Deseret Industries (and I'm sure many other thrift stores) either sell junky clothes to recycling centers or will reuse the materials on their own).

It's been nice taking a bit of a hiatus from heading up the swap meet efforts, but it was nice to get back into it again as well (as a helper this time, rather than the person in charge).


  1. Thank you for the links about textile recycling, that is information that will improve my life!

  2. Um Wow! Excited for your jeans and pea coat. I have the same one from college. It is 20 years those babies last! As someone who is not married to an oil tycoon but is now married to a doctor there is no virtue in wasting money on clothing and recycling is the way to go. Also I love when people come and take things that we no longer need. It makes me feel better then throwing them in the trash.

  3. Glad you found some good stuff! I miss passing along Zach's old clothes to Benjamin. I always enjoyed spotting them on your blog. I occasionally see Zoë in one of his pairs of black athletic pants. So cute. :)