[ROSTRUM]Grabbing, sharing, conservingThere was a little fuss after evening worship service, to grab some clothes that would go well on us. It was over in just a few minutes, because we, all married housewives, displayed judgment and dexterity of our own, almost close to instinct, when the first person to grab becomes the owner of the clothing.
The ado was started by the considerate preparations of Mijin’s mother. While sorting out old clothes, she laid some items aside to give them to slim Soon-young, but they were a little too big for her. So she gave her permission that whoever wanted them might take them. The instant her words were uttered, new owners were decided in just a few moments. Thanks to the event, I managed to pick a cotton T-shirt dyed in a dusty yellow.
This kind of fuss is not a rare occasion at our church. Like Mijin’s mother, several church members have relatives in big cities who send quite a lot of clothes they no longer wear, so we share the clothes among ourselves. Of those clothes, few are too old to wear. Most of them are clothes with famous brands or almost brand new clothes. We share whatever clothes we get with a thankful heart, thinking a little worn or stained ones will fit for work.
Thankfully, the number of times my family members have to buy new clothes is gradually decreasing. These days, I came to have the patience to wait a little longer, even when I have to buy new clothes. I even came to have confidence that when clothes are needed, they would surely come via some route or another. It is the same with clothes for my two children. The first one is five years old, and the second is five months old, but I have bought almost no clothes for them so far. Many neighbors have brought old clothes for them without feeling sorry because I told them a little exaggeratedly that even worn-out underwear was welcome.
I like second-hand clothes. Above all, I have the greatest joy because I can get them free. In addition, there are other reasons that give me pride in my choice. I heard that new clothes could contain poisonous materials; new clothes are bound to have chemicals in the production process.
Also, I wear old clothes with a happy heart for the earth. I heard that cotton T-shirts are counted among the pollutants of the earth. That is, when farmers grow cotton, they apply insecticides and herbicides. And when manufacturers make T-shirts out of cotton, they use all kinds of chemicals.
When I open the wardrobe in my house, there are some T-shirts whose necks are loose from wear or with holes from the washing machine. It is time I threw them away, but I can’t because they have been comfortable to wear for a long time, like the joy of good friends. But others have been in the wardrobe for many years because I don’t enjoy wearing them. There will be another little fuss at my church, won’t there? The first will be my maternity clothes. Several suits were handed down from this and that person, and now the time has come for a new owner.
I wonder how much help it will be to the earth if we shared just a few sets of clothes instead of buying them, but I like to open my wardrobe proudly, remembering that even a big river starts with a small drop of water.
* The writer is an essayist. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Chu Dol-ran