Bags of Rags and Mental Health
By: Beth McHugh 2010
This is probably the strangest title for a mental health article I have written lately but the inspiration came from a home and garden warehouse catalog that was dumped in my mail box.
I’m not big on perusing catalogs, especially those involving work, but this particular object for sale really popped out of the page for me. Apparently, for $7.50, I can buy a bag of rags. Marketed as Rags in Bags I looked at it, astounded that anyone would sell such an item, much less buy it.
Being the psychologist, I was rather aghast at the ramifications of this product being on the market. For the best part of $10 bucks, I can buy a bag of rags. Obviously rags have many useful purposes, but have we as a community become so affluent and so lazy that we cannot make our own rags? After all, there is little shortage of raw materials in all our homes – old T-shirts that cannot be donated to second hand clothing outlets, old socks, old pajamas, etc, that make excellent polishing cloths. We simply need to find the effort to sort them out, and perhaps cut them into manageable shapes ready to use. And then find a suitable place to store them.
So why is this a mental health issue? Well, it shows that there is a definite market for something which is freely available. And I mean free. Are we so affluent that we go buy a bag of rags instead of making our own? Are we too short of time to even sort out rags from decent clothes and dispose of accordingly? Are we so into the disposable lifestyle that we throw away perfectly good rags so we can buy more rags? Are we not taking the recycling message seriously?
Although buying bags of rags is not a mental illness, it does show a lack of initiative, of value to the environment, of time and of motivation. None of these lead to a healthy sense of self. Hence this is the reason why this advertisement made my eyes pop out. Now I really value my ragbag that has been in my laundry awaiting all sorts of chores when I get around to them. And it costs me and the environment nothing.