Back when I was a small child (and I am closing in on 45 fast) I would often receive a bag of goodies that included new (to me) clothes and toys. Back then, hand-me-downs were a common thing.
Hand-me-downs are still common for me.
Eleven years ago when I purchased my first (and current) home, I invited all the homeowners I knew that gardened over for a plant swap. Folks were asked to bring plants that they wanted to get rid of and take whatever they wanted. It wasn’t a tit for tat kind of thing. People just laid out what they had and picked up what they wanted. I didn’t have much to share from my new yard, but ended up with LOTS of plants – mostly stuff everyone else already had lots of. People were thrilled with their hauls and with being given the opportunity to get rid of what they didn’t want without throwing them away.
Since then, I have sort of become a clearing house for people’s plants, clothes and misc. things. I tell people I will take anything you want to get rid of and find it a home. I have been given lovely mahogany furniture that I passed along to friends whose decor works well with the mahogany; solid wood tables from one house to a church; TVs and VCRs from one friend to another. Electronics, furniture and clothes all come to me, and in turn, I find all of this stuff a nice home… often it is my home. I haven’t purchased new clothes (except, perhaps a few undergarments) in maybe four years. I also find out what people are looking for and spread the word. You never know who has an extra dresser or bookshelf or whatever hidden in their basement or deep in a closet they would love to get rid of.
So, how to start something like this with your friends, neighbors and family?
Start talking to folks. In recent years it was in bad taste to talk about making ends meet or recycling. These days these terms are part of many conversations. Remember, it is not necessary to be down to your last nickel to organize one of these things. This is a great way to not only save money, but save the planet as well. If you don’t need to do it for financial reasons, do it for environmental ones.
Do you have friends that have kids older than yours that you would love to get a hold of some of their clothes? Do you have clothes that your child has outgrown and need to get rid of? Play clothes don’t have to be stain-free, they just need to fit. Do you need to paint a small room and don’t have the funds for the paint? Ask around to see if anyone has leftover paint. Need furniture? Ask around. Do you have a friend who used to be your size but who recently lost (or gained) a bunch of weight? What is she/he doing with their old clothes? Start swapping with others, soon people will want to join your group and get in on the free-stuff and get rid of their things.
Plan a swap. Invite folks you know to bring clothes in their house (theirs, their spouse’s/partner’s, their children’s) and lay them out for others to take and invite them to search through what others have brought. Whatever is left can be taken to a charity or saved for the next swap. Talk to each other at the swap. What do you have in the way of furniture or household stuff that you would like to get rid of? What are you looking for? Start sharing with each other. Remember, to get free stuff you have to be willing to part with your stuff at no charge.
Can you paint or sew or fix a toilet or …? What do you need done? Can you barter among friends, family and neighbors?
Let’s all share our resources. Find out how we can help each other and ourselves.
BTW, I am looking for a six foot tall bookcase for some friends of mine. They would prefer white but can paint it. If you know of anyone in the St. Louis, MO area looking to get rid of a (free) 6′ tall bookcase – please let me know.