Ever seen a hat, glove, scarf or similar in the street and thought ‘I could use that’? Well Lauri used to but went one further and did pick them up and use them. She then started her own website Foundclothing.typepad.com and things have grown from there. Life Goggles caught up with her for a chat.
Let’s start at the beginning – why pick up discarded clothes?
Why not? These items are usually only slightly worn, and sometimes they still have the price tags on them. Sometimes they’re designer fashions that I could never afford. I pick up pretty much anything that I can carry and that’s usable — clothes, jewelry, little toys, whatever I can find. The clothing focus came about when I realized how much found clothing occupied my closet.
Then after that, why photograph them and start a website about it?
I was sitting in the lobby of my law school (Cardozo in New York City) one Sunday afternoon, looking for a way to avoid doing my schoolwork, and the idea struck.
How long has the site been going? And you’ve built a bit of a community now right?
It will be two years in March.
Do you really wear everything you find? Do you give some to other people or to charity or what?
Not everything. Sometimes I find things that are too big, or for men, or not my style. I take them because someone else might not, and they might end up in the landfill. My hallway’s got a huge pile of stuff that I’ve got to get rid of once the weather gets better. Friends have encouraged me to sell the items online, using the “found” aspect as a draw.
Do you still buy new things?
Yes, but not much these days. My astronomical law school loans, which are now in repayment, keep me out of the shops, for the most part.
Do you recommend others to follow in your footsteps? Not everyone can obviously as they’ll be nothing left for you!
Definitely. It makes life fun, like an endless treasure hunt. It saves you money. It helps the environment. It’s quirky and fun. It makes for good stories at parties to say, “this fabulous shirt? I found it on the sidewalk.”
Your site also has other random musing on there – do you just post when you feel like it or is there a grand plan?
I’m a writer by trade, and something of a bigmouth on the keyboard, so it’s hard for me to be quiet. Ultimately, I’d like to create a book out of my website – I’m actually working on such a project right now. It focuses on the idea of abandonment – of the clothes that I find, and of people. We live in such a fast-paced culture that we throw things away without even thinking about the consequences. On a related note, people throw each other away; many folks end up feeling abandoned by parents, friends, partners, even by life itself. Anyway, any agents out there are encouraged to contact me!
Any advice to people starting out as a freegan?
Not really, other than “go for it” and “keep your head high.” Freeganism is a wonderful thing, and I’m glad that people do it. But I’d prefer it if everyone thought twice before they chucked something in the trash.
And finally, what’s bee your best find?
That’s tough – I’ve found gold jewelry, Armani sweaters, fur-trimmed jackets and other valuables. So many choices. Let’s say it’s this Club Monaco skirt, which is timelessly fashionable. I found it in a municipal garbage can a few blocks from my house last summer.
Lauri, you’ve inspired me, I’m going to pick up all those single, lonely gloves I see in winter.