Pass it Forward

‘Pass it forward’ is the new ‘hand-me-down’. I am no stranger to pre-loved stuff, having grown up  wearing clothes from cousins, aunts and jumble sales. As long as it’s still good, pass it on. Back when we lived in Kuching, we even passed on old clothes to the orang asli, in exchange for the food they came to sell.

Despite its noble intention, giving away used items is less welcome these days. It’s hard to even find a church or charity organisation that would accept old clothes or books. Cash is much preferred, thank you.

So where do our now unused stuff go to? Clothes that have gotten too tight? DVDs watched once? Trinkets we’ve grown tired of? It’s a shame to throw them away. Till they find new owners, they crowd our cupboards or grow mould in forgotten boxes.

That’s where they have remained until my friend Kam Leng started to pass me books, magazines and DVDs she has no need for anymore. She herself got them from friends who gave them away.

So that’s what I’m doing now. I also pass my books and DVDs to her, and she’s free to pass them on when she’s done with them. This exchange benefits both of us and others down the line. We get to clear our cupboards, and make room for new books and DVDs, which we don’t have to fork out money for.

I must admit, it was hard at first to let my things go. But I know that I would never read those books or watch those movies twice, so why not let someone else enjoy them?

Buy No Presents

I was at a bookstore with Geri when she wanted to buy a book I already had. I told her not to waste her money. I would give her my copy. She asked me to wrap it up and give it to her for Christmas. That’s not a bad idea.

Giving something you own as a gift doesn’t mean you’re a scrooge. Not if it’s something you love and cherish.

Haanim’s family made a rule one Christmas that no presents would be bought that year. The gift would have to be something that you love given away or something that you made yourself. What a great idea for a new tradition! I think that makes Christmas less commercial and more meaningful. It’s not about presents that you can easily get off the shelf, but a true gift that someone has put some thought into.

Garage Party

Another great way to pass on your things is to invite friends over for a party and let them choose what they want. Ro did just that when she hosted a get-together for a few girls from our travel group. We got to choose our ‘party favours’ from a pile of things that needed new homes. I selected two bowls, a few sauce plates and a belt. They have all been put to good use. I’ve even received a compliment for a look that was jazzed up with that belt, so thank you, Ro.

The bowl that Ro gave. I love the flowery shape of the mouth. Simple yet elegant.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Wee on May 24, 2010 at 9:09 am

    Good one! Although I’m not ready to pass on anything just yet (I’m still an obsessive hoarder), but one day I know I’ll be able to let some of my CDs and books go. p.s i know someone out there will appreciate my Radiohead CDs. : )


    • I’m a hoarder too. When I moved to KL, my stuff filled up a car. When I moved to my next place, they barely filled up a small lorry. When I moved to my present place, I had to leave my plants behind.

      Over time, I’ve learned to let go. One good turn deserves another. I’m just passing on things so that new ones can enter my life. Of course, there will be some possessions that I will hold on to, like all my Roald Dahl books.

      Have you ever given a thought to what happens to all our stuff when we die? We don’t have estate sales here. And rather than see my stuff thrown out, I’d rather give it away to people who would appreciate it. Also, Wee, when you take on a lover, you’ll need to make some space.


  2. Posted by kl on May 29, 2010 at 7:46 am

    On CDs and good as new items. A friend of mine off-loaded her huge CD collection to Cash Converter. Think they buy over anywhere between RM2.5 to RM5.

    On gifts. I’ve fervent hope that with age we appreciate the gift of company or charity over stress of buying perfect gifts that are never quite right. If all fail stick to sharing a simple meal 🙂

    On garage parties. Great idea. Never been to one. I worry if people fight over the same items…

    On death by hoarding. Cringe if I’m exposed as a ragpicker when I expire… which I am… I aim to ‘take off’ with at most a hand-carry. Here’s hoping..


    • If it’s too cheap, I’d rather give away. Which is why my stuff on eBay don’t sell easily.

      One of the best gifts I’ve ever received was when my brother took me on a hawker food eating spree for my birthday.


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