Re leaving clothing behind

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Please allow me to express a dissenting opinion to that of the reader who suggests that one can lighten the load while traveling by packing clothing that one no longer wants and disposing of it en route (March ’07, pg. 84). While this is not the first time I have heard this suggestion, it always has bothered me. I am concerned about 1) the negative impact it has on the globe and 2) the negative opinion it creates (or reinforces!) about Americans.

I applaud recycling clothing by donating to and shopping in charity and resale shops, but too many of us (Americans) tend to overestimate the value of what we are so graciously leaving behind — usually leaving it in a hotel room, maybe with a note to a maid who more than likely doesn’t speak English.

In many instances, our clothing is unsuitable for those in other countries because it does not fit in with their cultural mores, because people are of different sizes and shapes and/or because they just plain don’t want our hand-me-downs!

If you have clothing that is too small, too large, etc., why not just donate it to a charity shop before you leave home and pack (lightly) with clothing that you like and that feels comfortable to you? If you must travel with stuff that you want to get rid of, please at least find a local charity overseas that will accept it. Don’t just leave it someplace for someone else to dispose of. The landfills in other parts of the world aren’t any less crowded than those in the U.S.

A final note — a few years ago, earthquakes and landslides in Guatemala left many people homeless, with their possessions gone. Well-intentioned charities sent clothing, consisting of American-style blue jeans and such, without considering that, in most parts of Guatemala, the natives have their own unique (and beautiful) style of dress.

One American woman who lived in Guatemala had a better idea. She solicited donations of money so that the Guatemalans could replace their lost clothing with their familiar native garb, in many cases by weaving it themselves.

DEE POUJADE

Portland, OR

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

Please allow me to express a dissenting opinion to that of the reader who suggests that one can lighten the load while traveling by packing clothing that one no longer wants and disposing of it en route (March ’07, pg. 84). While this is not the first time I have heard this suggestion, it always has bothered me. I am concerned about 1) the negative impact it has on the globe and 2) the negative opinion it creates (or reinforces!) about Americans.

I applaud recycling clothing by donating to and shopping in charity and resale shops, but too many of us (Americans) tend to overestimate the value of what we are so graciously leaving behind — usually leaving it in a hotel room, maybe with a note to a maid who more than likely doesn’t speak English.

In many instances, our clothing is unsuitable for those in other countries because it does not fit in with their cultural mores, because people are of different sizes and shapes and/or because they just plain don’t want our hand-me-downs!

If you have clothing that is too small, too large, etc., why not just donate it to a charity shop before you leave home and pack (lightly) with clothing that you like and that feels comfortable to you? If you must travel with stuff that you want to get rid of, please at least find a local charity overseas that will accept it. Don’t just leave it someplace for someone else to dispose of. The landfills in other parts of the world aren’t any less crowded than those in the U.S.

A final note — a few years ago, earthquakes and landslides in Guatemala left many people homeless, with their possessions gone. Well-intentioned charities sent clothing, consisting of American-style blue jeans and such, without considering that, in most parts of Guatemala, the natives have their own unique (and beautiful) style of dress.

One American woman who lived in Guatemala had a better idea. She solicited donations of money so that the Guatemalans could replace their lost clothing with their familiar native garb, in many cases by weaving it themselves.

DEE POUJADE

Portland, OR