What if we “checked out” clothes like books?

Today’s idea for the day…Clothes Libraries.
Or would they be libraries? Perhaps rent-a-centers? But we wouldn’t want to charge to check them out but simply charge if they come back late.

Here is what I am thinking, I’ve heard recently that when you donate clothes to an organization the clothes don’t actually make it to a clothes rack somewhere. Instead, the clothes are weighed for their cloth and material then the company receives money per pound of cloth/material. I’m not sure of the breakdown but I imagine this must be pennies on the dollar.

So what if, each community had a clothes library? People sign up giving all the appropriate information (just as you would for a library card) and then you can run about the “library” searching for the clothes you need for say, an important interview, or a night out, or something to survive a brutal winter storm.

I’ve participated in clothing drives and more significantly with a program called the “Midnight Run” (http://www.midnightrun.org/) where a group of students and I ran around Manhatten at midnight delivering clothes to the homeless. Our van was more or less a portable clothes library where our patrons would check out clothes (of course under no premise of returning them) but it is a moving and hands-on way to show what your own winter coat could do for someone who truly needs it.

So what if this population of homeless individuals did not have to rely on the deliver of a group of students in a van with a smörgåsbord of different sizes, styles, and for different seasons? What if they had a center that they could go and “check out” a suit for an interview, or “check out” a winter jacket for the season (or for the week)?

It would become a huge community closet. Perhaps the homeless could then work there, earning wage by washing the clothes, sewing loose buttons and tears, folding, storing, sorting, etc. So now they are getting clothes they need, supporting each other, and earning wages to put aside while they work towards a safer life.

You may ask, right and how will you hold them accountable for such a thing? How about this – the library provides them with a P.O. Box in the facility giving them an address to have mail sent to. Giving them ownership over something – so now this population won’t be ashamed to apply for a job because they don’t want to leave the address section/mailing address section of the application blank.

But what if they don’t return the clothes? Same as the library rules I am aware of, you can’t check out unless you return what you have.

There are other details to iron out sure but this isn’t a blog about creating proposals for ideas or to formulate strategic plans to make them happen. This is a blog for people to read and get inspired. I have an idea a day (well counting on 2 days so far) but what could you come up with if you took your time in the car getting to and from work (or the walk, or bike ride) and focused on solving a problem/issue in your community? Or perhaps thinking of something that someone else hasn’t yet?

Give it a shot. Maybe you are a Curious Commuter as well. 🙂

Rock on,
Joe

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