Swishing, swapping, donating – it’s all recycling

In challenging financial climates it may seem a bit heartless to put on the happy face.  But for the part of me that loves the earth and wishes to cherish her resources in good heart for generations to come, the recession seems to have a bit of a silver lining.

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For those of us with parents or grandparents who lived through the Great Depression and World War II, make do and mend was a practical way of life.I daresay there are many of my generation who have cleared their deceased parents’ houses and bewailed the piles of carefully stacked jars, rewound twine – all those odds and ends that might come in handy but rarely do until have you have had a thorough clear-out! But we could heed that frugal practice and adapt it to 21st century lives.

Recently my friend Helga invited me to a Clothes Swap afternoon.  It was held in the Mountain Tavern on Slieve Anieran – or Iron Mountain in English – where the pub landlady also has an organic farm.  These parties are popping up all over the place.  In England they sometimes call them ‘swishing’ parties.  The idea is to bring clothes and accessories that you no longer fit into, or need and swap them.

Children’s clothing was a hot swap that afternoon as well as women’s wear. Helga was happy to get a new jacket.  I was reassured that there were a few plus size options for me to consider.  What was left over after the party got parcelled up for St. Vincent DePaul, Ireland’s charity helping needy families.

In Irish legend Slieve Anieran is the place where the mythical first people of Ireland (the Tuatha de Danaan), first set landfall on this Ireland.   Tuatha de Danaan translates as the people of Danu. In Irish mythology, Danu lead these first peoples,  and it is thought that the word donation is from the same root as her name, and she is venerated for her generosity.

Irish costal home and dory.

Irish coastal home with fishing dory.

They also suggest that Danu’s name is at the root of the rivers Don (in Russia and England) and the Danube.  It suggests that this generosity is a flow that runs deep and free.  We need to make sure that the river is kept clean – ‘potable’ as they say – healthy for all species, as it flows on from underground cavern to the spring, streams, tributaries  to river, river to sea.  That water may feed a well and get pumped up into a home to flow out of the kitchen spigot.

Later in the week I was clearing out some books and pondering about taking them to the charity shop to make a donation. I know I could try and sell our many books on a website, but in these cash-strapped times I like to feel that you can donate more than just money to help a worthy cause.

My friend, who only has seasonal employment, spends her winter months working in this charity shop behind the till.  She has time to give – but it also gives her social contact during the isolating winter months.

After depositing the books I popped into the DVD exchange shop.  This is a commercial outfit that takes the films you are finished with and gives you credit to find more films or television box sets to take home and watch.  No money got spent.  We cleared some space and came away with some films.

TV remote atop fresh popcorn

Consider swapping DVDs with friends if you don't have a local DVD 'swap shop.'

These film nights don’t have to be solitary.  We have film nights at a friend’s home and we all take turns choosing the film.  This is socialising for the price of a swapped DVD and popcorn.

It struck me that this swishing, swapping and donating is all recycling.  Donating is not just something that is worthy, socially responsible and environmentally friendly. It’s an exchange of abundance that simply redistributes the wealth – money for those who don’t have time,  time given for those who would otherwise feel lonely or ‘on the shelf’ during times of unemployment, used clothes for those without money but in need of a bit of a wardrobe and self-esteem boost, a sense of making a contribution as I clear my bookshelves.

Generosity can be endless and unceasing, the giving that keeps giving, recycled around and around.  That’s a good thing to donate to future generations.

About BeeSmith

I was born in Queens, N.Y, reared in Pennsylvania, did university in Washington, D.C. Then I moved to England for nineteen years. I lived first in London and then in Leeds. After my partner's sister died of cancer in 2000, we decided to take the leap of faith and move to Ireland to be nearer his family. Despite our friends thinking we were mad and feckless, it has worked out. The angels really do look after fools! We have a cottage on an acre and a quarter three miles from where the River Shannon rises. We have a polytunnel to grow vegetables and fruit organically, a small orchard of apple trees and plans to create a sacred space on the land over the rest of our lifetimes. We share our home with two tortoiseshell cats, Zelda and her daughter Zymina, and three dogs, Murphy, Pippin and Cara.