You want mine, then buy it !


Yesterday I went with a friend to drop off her old clothes and other stuff at ‘Just Between Friends’. I thought it was a donation store like Goodwill, but I was wrong. It was a place where they sell your old stuff for you, keep a percentage of the money and give the rest to you.

I was a little disturbed to see that even newborn baby clothes are being sold there. America is not a poor country, period. The Pontiacs, the BMWs and the Lexus cars outside this place was proof enough! But I wonder why they use used clothes when they can afford to buy good stuff at discounted prices as there is a sale somewhere or the other throughout the year in the US. This very concept of buying used clothes disturbs me as a mom, though it may be labeled as re-cycling by the Americans. Whenever I see garage sales for clothes, this disturbed feeling comes back to me again and again!

I can understand if toys or books are used again, but definitely not clothes. Whenever I go to the donation boxes to drop off old clothes or toys, I stand and think for a moment, “Am I doing the right thing?” I feel that I am giving a chance to those people to resell my used stuff. Back in India, when we donate something, we know that those go to the natural calamities’ victims or to the poor people and are not for sale!

It is true that branded clothes are very expensive, but who wants branded clothes for little kids?!! Even branded clothes can be got at clearance sales which all shops thrive on. I see some of the kids, in the schools I sub for, wear faded shirts and old pants and that too at the beginning of the school year. And the schools I am talking about are the private schools where the tuition is a hefty sum. When the parents can afford the fees, shouldn’t they be able to afford good clothes for their kids? And if they are not able to afford it, then public schools are no less in education, discipline or grooming of the kid. Well, of course, every parent has their priorities and decisions, so I leave it at that.

When we were kids, our clothes were not even passed down to the close cousins, in the fear that they or their parents would be offended. Passing down was only prevalent in the house among siblings. As I don’t have a sister, my clothes were limited and never lasted enough to be passed down. My brothers shared their clothes, and passed them down to each other too. I did that with my kids but only with the perfectly good clothes that could actually be passed down.

Passing down is one thing, buying used clothes is another. Now, how much hygiene is there in that, is a debatable question and so is best avoided. Of course, the clothes that I saw put up for sale in Just between friends place were cleaned and were in good condition. But the fact remains that they were used by some kid in some other family and now if you buy it, your kid would be using somebody else’s ‘left over’.

In India, leftover food and used clothes are given only to the poor people and that too as a donation. The concept of buying used clothes is a taboo or rather, is not heard of. Leave alone clothes, even furniture is not bought second hand by even middle class family. We buy it only if they can afford it. We believe in ‘Save money, live better’ the Wal-Mart way, rather than ‘Casual Luxury’ the Abercrombie way!

Every country has a different way of operating, I suppose. Every country’s people think differently, I believe. Being an Indian is being pampered I think, as we live life king size, a big king or a small king, is immaterial- dignity is what matters! This holds good for Indians in the US too!



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