Editorial: Please support Treasures of the ARC resale boutique

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

This week I got a letter from Cheryl Rice asking to please help get the word out about Treasures of the ARC resale boutique. Rice, a training coordinator at COEA, said more shoppers and donors are needed to help keep the shop open.

In case you haven't heard about it, Treasures of the ARC is a resale boutique – or thrift store – located at 108 E. Ascension St. in Gonzales. Whether you are donating or buying, 100 percent of the net proceeds support individuals with developmental disabilities in our community.

When you buy from the store or make tax-deductible donations of gently used clothing, furniture and household items, you help individuals with developmental disabilities in two ways:

• You help with job training because the store is an extension of Community Opportunities – The ARC of East Ascension, which is better known as COEA. Individuals at COEA have the opportunity to train as sales associates, learn how to run a cash register, process inventory and practice providing customer service for the retail industry.

• You help fund COEA. Items are sold to the public and 100 percent of the store's proceeds stay within the community to benefit individuals at COEA.

Besides the super-friendly staff you'll find at Treasures of the ARC, you'll find a large selection of men's, ladies' and children's clothing, toys, books, jewelry purses, shoes household items and décor – all at bargain prices.

I like to shop there. In fact, I bought one of my favorite shirts at the store. It's a red and gold paisley print blouse I wear with my brown corduroy pants and jeans. I love anything with a paisley print! Another favorite purchase was some beige snakeskin pumps I wore at the State Capitol during the first day of the Legislative Session.

One of my favorite dresses was purchased at a thrift store for $2.50. I get compliments every time I wear that dress.

Besides the amazing bargains and pretty clothes, I feel good shopping thrift stores knowing I'm helping worthy organizations and people in my community.

It's also a trendy thing to do – not just for the vintage styles - but because it helps the environment.

Did you know that Americans throw out two quadrillion pounds of clothing per year?

Recycling unwanted clothing reduces landfill waste as well as resources needed to produce new clothing. In fact, it lessens the amount of waste produced by the manufacturing process, the pollutants, greenhouse gases and volatile organic compounds released into the water.

For me, the stigma of purchasing secondhand clothing wore off quickly when I learned just how significantly recycled clothing helps the environment.

Environmental benefits include reducing the amount of pesticides used in growing cotton; reducing the amount of clothing made from petroleum products; and, reducing the amount of water needed to dye fabrics.

Nylon and polyester fabric are made from petrochemicals. Nylon manufacturing creates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 310-times more potent than carbon dioxide. Making polyester uses large amounts of water for cooling, along with lubricants which can also harm the environment. In addition, these synthetics are non-biodegradable.

Natural fibers cause problems, too. Cotton is the most pesticide intensive crop in the world. Pesticides injure and kill many people each year. Herbicides typically remain in the fabric finishing and are released during the lifetime of the garments. The development of genetically modified (GM) cotton adds even more environmental concerns. Other materials such as leather pollute through the tanning and dyeing processes, as well as intensive farming practices.

Instead of ending up in landfills, your clothes can be donated to local thrift stores like Treasures of the ARC to fund employment and training programs for people with disabilities.

I really hope you'll visit Treasures of the ARC this week and lend the store your support. It would be sad to lose it. Tell them Lisa sent you.

Lisa Yates is the editor of Gonzales Weekly Citizen. Follow her on Twitter @Lisa_editor.