If you are into the zero waste lifestyle or if you are super conscious of how you impact the environment on a daily basis, you may agree with me on this: I don’t like new stuff.
Whhuuuuuaaaaat?! Well, chances are that someone somewhere has the thing that I need and is no longer using it; it is probably sitting in a storage unit collecting dust and feeling sad! I would much rather extend its life to have less of an impact; it is cheaper, it takes it off someone else’s hands, and a bonus: it comes without extra packaging.
Our whole economy is unfortunately based on consumerism. We produce stuff, we create ads to make you think you need the stuff, and then we buy the stuff. Then a new version of that stuff comes out, more ads are created to make you think that the old version is obsolete, so you buy it… and on it goes. For example: how many cell phones have you owned (a new one any time there is an upgrade available)? Where do those end up? Do we even know what electronic recycling looks like? Chances are, there are mounds of electronics in a landfill somewhere, including our cell phones.
How about that sharing economy! Because one of the first lessons we learn at school is that sharing is caring and why shouldn’t that apply to us as adults too? If you need something “new”, you can probably find a second-hand or hand-me-down version, or perhaps you are so lucky to live in a place that has lending libraries!
Second-hand and hand-me-down items SAVED us when our babe came along last summer. Babies need stuff – sorry, ZW MOM! However, that stuff doesn’t need to be new because if you know anything about babies, you’ll know that they change in the blink of an eye. Which is why I do not understand purchasing brand new baby sneakers for $30 when it will probably only wear them twice…
There are some very generous parents in our life that passed on their hand-me-downs to us, such as:
- crib and bedding
- car seat (be wary of buying second-hand, as they expire)
- high chair
- toys and books
- sooooo many clothes
- changing pad
We were even able to borrow a rocking chair from a colleague! She wants it back when she has grandchildren 🙂
What was not generously given to us, we were able to obtain second-hand:
- play pen
- cloth diapers
I even had a few items left from when I was a baby:
- toys and books
- wall hangings
Some very crafty and generous friends made us special things for baby too, like this awesome toy with a bell inside:
Advertisements play a HUGE role in what we buy. There are so many lists out there too that overwhelm us: WHAT YOU NEED FOR HOSPITAL, WHAT YOU NEED TO TAKE BABY HOME, WHAT YOU NEED FOR THE FIRST WEEK, WHAT YOU NEED BEFORE BABY IS FOUR MONTHS, WHAT YOU NEED TO TAKE BABY ON A TRIP. And those lists aren’t exclusively made for parents and new babies.
BLAH! Try not to let these endless lists get to you. Go with your flow. You and your babe may end up not needing half of that crap people tell you that you need. Start with your essentials. Whatever follows, try to obtain it second-hand to save you time, money, and (bonus) excess packaging! Where you can check before buying new:
- Friends that may know other parents
- Buy & Swap groups on Facebook or other social media
- Family members
- Local clothing swaps
- Thrift stores
- DIY if you’re crafty
I follow a lot of zero-wasters on Instagram, and love seeing their second-hand finds. A big part of avoiding waste and being more eco-conscious is to start at the source, which is typically packaging from things we buy. So maybe next time you know you need something “new”, try thrifty alternatives and see what you find.
Have you found something absolutely wonderful in your second-hand-me-down adventures?