Celebrating Earth Day: Other People’s Stuff

photo by Courtney Velasquez

When I was growing up, it was such a thrill to receive my two older cousins’ outgrown clothes. Their “hand me downs” we more special to me than anything my mom could buy me in the store.


I didn’t have siblings, so I relished in the story, the character, and the previous life these clothes had already lived. Would they make me any wiser? Any more beautiful?

As I grew older, wearing last year’s fashions somehow lost its appeal. Gradually I was no longer the recipient of these pieces of walking history. In an unconscious sense, I suppose I felt I was “too good” for those clothes.
Life went on and I grew up.

As I matured and had children of my own, one thing became abundantly clear to me: if I didn’t do my part to preserve this planet, a small part of it was going to disappear. It would be easy to think, “I can’t do much, so why bother?”
But, “Why not?”

I did the things most people do: recycle in those plastic containers that sit helplessly in the garage. My newspapers never see a trashcan. Nor do any magazines. I buy in bulk so there is less waste. The list goes on. But my mind came back to clothes. What about those?

As I thought about it, buying new clothes almost seemed criminal. For my family, not necessarily for anyone else’s.
Should we really buy new ones when there were stores everywhere that were packed with used ones needing new homes?
My mind began to race of all the things we didn’t need to buy new that were sold used.

Recycling in a completely unique way. It wasn’t really the way everyone was doing it. It was the way I chose to do it and I liked it.
I’ve found the most unique things in my quest to reuse things others don’t need. I look mainly at thrift stores and am amazed at the most beautiful and one of a kind things I’ve given my family. They’ve given us stories that “off the rack” type things just don’t offer.

Those clothes I used to receive from my cousins have come full circle now. We live many states away now and I’m sure have different styles. But it was through them that I developed a love for “other people’s stuff.”

Courtney Lawless

Courtney is the traveling mom! She has 3 girls and is the founder of Detroit Mommies and currently lives in Florida. You can follow her on Twitter @courtneyRVL.

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