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Dear Little Bobby,
My roommate has a dog with a lot of issues. Tonight, he chewed up the bottom corner of my new Pyragraph T shirt! WTF? He is a small dog but he managed to quickly chew a quarter-sized hole when I left it on the ground. The artwork on the front is still beautiful, but I can’t even donate it now that it has this ugly hole. What can I do with it? I feel wasteful if I throw it away because of this, the same thing goes for the dog.
—Wish He Chewed My Homework Instead
Dear Wish He Chewed My Homework Instead,
Just to be clear, if you left it on the floor then it was not the dog’s fault, right? Especially since it sounds like you already know this dog needs extra love and attention. We all do. I too have seen enough documentaries on Netflix to feel guilty about throwing stuff away. For years I turned old T shirts and towels into “rags” when they were wearing out. Everyone needs a pile of rags at the ready, yes? Especially if you have dogs! But rags are not your only choice.
We should also do our best to not leave a trail of garbage behind us after we die.
You can definitely find a use for, or find someone else that has a use for a T shirt with a small hole. Far too often in this country we throw things away that would still be wanted—or needed—by someone else. Everything from perfectly edible food which places like Whole Foods throw away because the bananas are “a little too yellow” to the unwanted pets that get thrown away by fools who get a dog without wanting the responsibility of its care.
You CAN in fact donate items that have holes in them. I know a lot of homeless shelters here in Albuquerque that would love to have shirts, even slightly “damaged” ones. One person’s “unusable item” can be usable to someone who is huddled under a highway overpass in the cold.
There are also “non-human” options for donating. Our dog and cat friends need help too. My girlfriend and I were recently doing some spring cleaning of our closets when she looked online for donation centers. She discovered that the local animal shelter has an ongoing need for old rags, blankets, towels, clothing and anything else that they can give to the shelter animals.They need items that can be used as bedding, as well as rags and towels to use for cleaning up after all of those sweet and scared little guys and girls. It seems fitting that a dog putting a hole in your shirt could result in another dog having a soft place to lay down.
Or how about making more art from the artwork on the T shirt? Pyragraph is all about creativity, including creating through recycling. I have seen entire quilts made from old T shirts. I have even cut the nice designs out of T shirts which were wearing out, then I sewed that fabric onto one of the stuffed animals which my band uses to decorate stages when we play. I have a “niche” need—which brings me to my next point: give/need/want.
Often times other folks need what you no longer want, and online “freecycling” groups to help these folks find each other are popping up all over the place. I have recently used a Facebook group called “Free Stuff ABQ” to get rid of everything from cassette tapes to an extra toaster. I was happy that the items were going directly to someone who wanted them rather than to a thrift store or a recycle bin. Using the same “give/need” kind of forum I acquired a very large dog house at no cost other than muscle power. (Yes, it all keeps coming back to dogs for me.)
Please do not let the T shirt incident damage your relationship with the dog, or your roommate. In the end, “things” are just “stuff.” Everything, from our bodies to the clothing on our bodies, is just made of smaller bits. Eventually we all return to those smaller bits so let us not be too attached to things. But we should also do our best to not leave a trail of garbage behind us after we die.
—Little Bobby Tucker
“Though you want them to last forever, You know they never will | And the patches make the goodbye harder still.” —Cat Stevens, “Oh Very Young” 1974