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From Financial Integrity

Janet is a writer, knitter and a fibre artist. Her other passion is downshifting and simple living. Not the deprivation 'you cannot have that meal out' stuff...but stuff that gets you what you want by freeing up money and time. You can read more of Janet's story at Diary of a Downshifter. Janet is also available for speaking engagements and mentoring. See her Speakers Page.

On Foraging For Gloves

I went out with a friend to an exhibition (free of course) the other day. Having come upon the building from a sideways direction we followed a well-trodden dirt track through the bushes to the front of the building.

On the way, I noticed a pair of gloves, rather wet and a bit muddy, lying under a bush. Should I pick them up? Better not, I had my friend with me and folks think I am odd enough as it is. That is, however, how I had obtained the similar pair of black gloves that were in my pocket. Anyway, I thought I spied a hole in one of the fingers…

As we came back out and cut through the bushes again – guess what – my friend, who is also into simplicity, said ‘I’m going to pick those gloves up’. AWESOME MOMENT I am not the only person who goes clothes foraging.

I just so hate the waste – think of all the clothes that lie abandoned, forgotten and muddy on our streets and in bushes.

Over the years I have rescued:
Several hats, scarves and pairs of gloves.
A very nice hooded sweat shirt
Woolly socks
A reflective vest for cycling
An abandoned Army tin helmet left following a military exercise (!)

All of it was very obviously abandoned and had been there for a while – no one was coming back for it.

There is a certain satisfaction each time you wear a foraged item – after all you rescued it from oblivion. Thus I sat and picked the bits of grass off my gloves, lovingly washed sweaters and even mended some items.

It intrigues me when I see clothing or odd shoes lying on the sides of the road, or hanging from trees. What went on there exactly and where is the other shoe? In other words, what is their story? On the way to my Dad’s house, we pass a tree which is festooned with about 20 shoes, all hanging by their laces. Why?

I pick up other things too, such as a stainless steel dog bowl found in a lay by and a toy which our grand-child loves.

It pains me when I walk the dog and pass a whole green leather sofa, that had nothing wrong with it when it landed there. I keep thinking what I could use the leather for… I rescue stuff from beside peoples bins, too and re-home them. Over the years, we have become known for it so now people often just give it to us instead.

Old carpets are a mulch round our apple trees, and our neighbour’s sewing machine went to a charity group that was making costumes for a show. Our washing up bowl was thrown in a skip when new people moved in and gutted their kitchen. It was brand new, but presumably the wrong colour.

You cannot rescue it all and once you start, the sheer amount of stuff that gets chucked out can seem overwhelming. But, as Ghandi said, ‘live the change you want to see in the world’. A family member has also now put things on ‘Freegle’ (the UK’s Freecycle, where anyone can post details of things they no longer need for someone else to get free of charge) and recently sold his old bathroom suite on E Bay for an astounding £80 ($120) instead of throwing it away.

And here is a way to have some fun: If there is something you don’t want, put in at the front gate with a notice on it saying ‘free to good home.’ We have done that with many things over the years, and finally the above family member tried it too and disposed of an old TV, bike and some car repair ramps amongst other things.

We put some old kitchen cupboards out when we first moved here. They had been left in the garage and we needed the space. No one took them, so off they went to the dump.

We found out later that someone was dying to have them but was too embarrassed to come and get them!