Pierce: Dieting not the best way to recycle clothes

Pierce: Dieting not the best way to recycle clothes

November 30th, 2011 by Susan Pierce in Life Entertainment

After buying a third rolling clothes rack because I'd run out of closet space, I decided it was time to start cleaning out.

Actually, it was past time. As I began sorting through closets, I realized I had accumulated wardrobes in seven sizes ranging from the junior 13 I wore in college up to size 3x. No wonder I had no closet space!

I once heard an organizational speaker say, "If you haven't worn it in two years, you won't miss it. Toss it." That was my criteria as I began pulling items from the closet.

It was like a "This Is Your Life" fashion retrospective. There was a satin gown with sequin trim I'd worn in an early 1970s UTC All-Sing (what were we thinking!) and a number of city shorts with coordinating blazers from when that fad blew through town. In all, four decades worth of fads were represented.

I had saved all these clothes because "someday I might wear them again." (Don't judge ladies, you know you've all done it.)

But since the day I'd wear them again still hadn't arrived after two children, the start of a new millennium and untold dollars spent on diet programs, it was time to let go.

I did what any suburban entrepreneur would: held a yard sale. (Made $160 in two hours!) Very little of that cash came from sales of clothing, though, probably because of the dated styles.

I asked Tabi Upton, a licensed counselor with Richmont/CBI Counseling Center who writes a column for this paper, where does that false hope spring from that deceives women into thinking old clothes will be worn again?

Then I asked Tabi whether it was really wise to give away "fat clothes" like diet counselors suggest. I've yo-yo dieted long enough to know it will cost me money in the long run when I eventually spend dollars to replace those larger sizes.

The day Tabi got my email she had been visited by a friend giving Tabi her old clothes after she had lost two sizes.

"She's regained and lost those pounds over the year more than a couple of times," Tabi said. "Giving her large sizes away hasn't actually stopped her from gaining weight back, but I think it makes her feel good in the moment, and that has to be worth something."

Tabi suggested dieters choose to keep only a couple of items in their closets they hope to wear again.

"But I don't think it should be more than a couple. To me, that borders on hoarding and wishful thinking. Besides, someone out there can wear those clothes right now, so perhaps generosity would be best," she said.

So before a crew from A&E arrives to do a "Hoarders" intervention, I'm delivering all those unsold clothes in my basement to The Samaritan Center on my next day off.