Downsizing: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and The Gift of Prom Dresses

About midway through last year, when DSH and I finally decided to Downsize For Real and put our house onto the market, I made a mid-year resolution.

The resolution was that I would remove at least one thing per day from the house.

Some days, I don’t get rid of anything.  But on other days, I get rid of a lot of things.

RRR trashcan

I didn’t want to just start throwing stuff into the trash to end up in a landfill.

We have always tried to be good stewards of our environment.  We have always tried to recycle even when we lived in communities that didn’t support it.  We not only recycle, but we try not to over buy or be wasteful.

RRR symbol

In other words, we have always embraced the ideals of reduce, reuse, and recycle wherever possible.

Our kids have also embraced the concept.  So much, in fact, that our middle child used to save her recyclables when she lived in Indiana and would bring them with her when she came to visit.  She is an environmental engineer after all.

So, I try to go through something every day.  Clean out a drawer.  Clean a closet.  Clean the basement.  We went through all of my kitchen things and came up with enough stuff to almost completely outfit our daughter’s new apartment.

Not only have I saved stuff from ending up in our landfills, but I have made some cash in the process, too.

I sold a bunch of old gold and silver.  It is amazing how much money can be made by selling old jewelry that you no longer wear and silver that you no longer use.

We went through all of our old electronics (monitors, computers, laptops, cell phones, VHS and DVD players, etc.) and sold them back to a recycler (we made a little extra by printing off the detail list and taking the items apart).

We donated a lot of stuff to our local Goodwill resulting in a significant tax deduction.

We’ve sold stuff on Craigslist and have sent stuff to new homes by listing it on Freecycle.  We listed our basketball hoop on Freecycle and a grandmother came and retrieved it for her son and grandson.  She was so happy to get this for them that it really warmed my heart.

I’ve even gotten creative.  Our five girls all took piano lessons and, needless to say, we had a lot of piano trophies.  They wanted to keep a few of the special ones, but we had dozens that they didn’t want to keep so I gave them to a friend who was a piano teacher.

But, by far my most favorite thing that I have passed along have been some of our daughter’s old prom dresses.  Several dresses went to our nieces who are now entering the prom years.  But those that they did not want have also found new homes.

The Metro St. Louis Cinderella Project is a local charity that takes donations of prom dresses and makes them available to young women who might otherwise be unable to attend prom because they are unable to afford to buy a dress for it.  This local charity is part of Seventeen Magazine’s Donate My Dress campaign.

Prom 2009

Our two oldest daughter’s prom picture.

Local area high school counselors refer girls to this program.  According to the website, in 2012, “the Cinderella Project gifted dresses to more than 150 girls . . . In 2013, more than 200 girls have been referred by their schools.”

After these girls select their dresses, the project opens up for sales to other young woman.  Short dresses sell for $29 and long dresses sell for $39.

Homecoming 2007Homecoming and our three youngest girls.

We have been blessed.  All five of our girls attended all of their Homecoming dances in high school.  Sometimes they had dates.  Sometimes they went with groups of friends.

Prom 2011

Our two youngest girls and their senior prom picture.

They all attended prom in their junior and senior years of high school.

And, while we were able to afford to buy them dresses, they were always respectful of buying something that was reasonably priced.  We shopped the clearance and sale racks for future dances.

We never went overboard on hairdos and other expensive accompaniments.

They never went to dances in limousines or stayed at hotels over night.

They even shared and traded dresses and even wore some dresses more than one time.

They had fun attending Homecoming and Prom dances with boyfriends and friends.  And I know that they made lasting memories.

And some of their beautiful dresses have now found homes with other deserving young women.

And that makes this Mama very happy.

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