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Trash Talk

Inside this bag is about 15 pounds of my unwanted used skivvies!

I recently had a housewifing triumph. I removed grease stains from Mr. Hockey’s quarter-zip golf sweatshirt. Mr. Hockey is a sloppy cook and I’m a messy eater. I have long fought the battle of greasy stains and never prevailed.

It’s because I saw a “suggested post” on Instagram showing I could obliterate years-old grease stains by applying a paste of equal parts baking soda and Dawn dishwashing soap.

Our sullied shirts are saved. I am victorious! Huzzah!

Kudos to Instagram’s algorithm for intuiting that Mr. Hockey and I are slobs.

And kudos to me for saving that quarter-zip from the trash. According to the EPA, each year this country sends over 10 million tons of fabric to landfills and another 3 million tons get incinerated. Clothing breaks down slowly in landfills and when it does, the chemicals in it end up in the food chain and groundwater. Burning clothing (or anything) emits greenhouse gasses.

Discarding our clothes isn’t sustainable. So, in honor of Earth Day, let’s discuss reducing our waste.

My column about reducing our waists will have to wait. Sorry.

But,Tracy, you say, one salvaged greasy golf shirt does not a landfill empty!

True. Reducing the amount of stuff we toss is an insurmountable task. We will need the help of some motivational quotes: Put one foot in front of the other. Every 1000-mile journey starts with a single step. Eat an elephant one bite at a time.

Yikes! That last inspirational saying is not Earth Day friendly, but it is illustrative of my point. We start by throwing away less.

Another housewifing (I know it’s not a word – I’m using it anyway) war I fight is against phantom closet moths, or PCMs. I’ve never seen one, but they apparently exist. And they eat my sweaters.

I’ve tried lavender, cedar, and sticky traps to no avail. My sweaters are holey. To extend their lives – my sweaters, not the PCMs – I get them repaired at Nancy’s Tailoring and Alterations in Noyac.

I donate my viable but no longer wanted (or fitting) clothes to thrift shops, such as the Savers Thrift Store in Holbrook, just off Sunrise Highway, next to Costco. This Savers either resells or recycles my donations then gives a portion of its profits to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Long Island.

When I drop my clothes off, I’m hoping a short, chubby person will benefit from my gently used designer duds from Lands’ End.

What’s in it for me? That sweet, golden, cheap Costco gas next door.

What about clothes I can’t donate, like my tired underwear? I bet you’ve always wanted to read a column about my worn-out skivvies. I know I’ve always wanted to write it!

H&M gives store coupons for unwearable used clothing, which they remake into other garments or recycle into insulation. Madewell does it with old denim. Take Back bags from the online brand, For Days, hold 15 pounds of unwanted clothes and fabrics that you send back to them. Whatever they don’t sell, they also turn into insulation.

And it’s not just national chains. Our local Gubbins sporting goods shops take used sneakers to be recycled. Let’s give a special shout out to the East Hampton Gubbins for donating 7000 pairs of water-damaged sneakers to the Hamptons Community Outreach charity after a water main break flooded their store. Those shoes have been dried and will be given to locals who need them. Kudos to Gubbins and Hamptons Community Outreach! Huzzah!

Reusing and repurposing are longstanding concepts. My dad stored his nails and screws in old baby food jars. I remember Mr. Hockey’s grandmother (we can call her Grandma Hockey) folding Christmas wrapping paper after we had gingerly unwrapped our presents, to reuse it the following year.

Reducing and reusing are innovative concepts too. Young adults like my hockey pucks are buying clothes at thrift stores, second-hand furniture on Facebook marketplace, and reusable lunch boxes for work.

These ideas must have skipped a generation. It seems like it’s just folks my age who’ve consumed so much we’ve increased our landfills’ volume. It’s time we start biting the elephant.

Mr. Hockey recently conquered his own housewifing battle. He got rid of his wires! Those coaxial cables, printer wires, and old Gateway computer cords he held onto “just in case.”

Mr. Hockey faced the truth. There will never be a “just in case” case. Kudos to him!

And kudos to me (again) because I never complained about the crates of wires cluttering our closets. Our marriage is victorious! Huzzah!

How did we dispose of four garbage bags of cables? Staples! Staples will take and recycle many electronics, including wires that have been in your house for decades. Huzzah!

Locally, Geek Hampton in Sag Harbor will also take old computers. They make sure that your data is securely removed before recycling them. Both Geek Hampton and Staples take more than wires and computers. Check out their websites to learn more.

Sure, Mr. Hockey and I could extend the lives of our shirts if he simply cooked in an apron and if I ate with a bib. No need! I’ve got baking soda and Dawn! Huzzah!

If we follow the examples of Grandma Hockey and the Hockey Pucks and reuse whatever we can, our elephant will become smaller.

Let’s housewife our landfills! Let’s be victorious! Then there will be kudos all around. Huzzah!

Published in The East Hampton Press on April 27, 2023.

Photo by ME!!!

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