Baby Shopaholics | Seventh Generation
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Baby Shopaholics

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Author: HollyFisher

Things in CubbiesWhen I learned I was pregnant with my daughter, my shopping instinct kicked right in. Suddenly I was off to the baby store, already coveting nursery decorations, infant-sized shoes, and those adorable footed sleepers. My husband said we should buy only the basics, then wait until after the baby was born to figure out what we really needed. Practical advice, but I couldn't help myself. I'd slip a cute pair of booties, a "Daddy's Little Girl" shirt, or a pair of infant blue jeans into the shopping cart. Everything was just so darn cute. And if you think I was bad, I won't even go into the fact this was the first grandchild for both sides of the family.

Flash forward two years later. A quarter of my garage is filled with boxes of baby items. Bags of clothing my daughter wore once or twice before she outgrew them sit next to totes filled with barely used toys and a host of other items from bouncy seats to baby bottles. Looking back, it appears that yes, I overdid it. But like so many new parents, I was taken in by the outdated notion that I needed a lot of "stuff" to make my baby safe, comfortable, happy, clean, and healthy. In truth, the wipes warmer and two dozen baby bath towels top a long list of things that just weren't necessary. Instead of protecting planet home for my baby, I was adding to its decline by using up resources.

I quickly reformed. These days, I've learned the joys of shopping second-hand, at consignment stores and yard sales. I regularly give away the shoes and clothing my daughter outgrows. And I encourage all my friends who are pregnant to seek out every hand-me-down they can find. Here are some more tips for going green when it comes to baby essentials:

  • Recycle. When you're expecting your first child, don't feel you have to buy everything new. Shop around for used items that include cribs, strollers, and clothing, and seek out hand-me-downs. Children outgrew things so quickly that your second-hand finds are likely to look and feel brand new.
  • Freecyle your own stuff. Chances are you have a friend, co-worker, or family member who can use some of the items your child has outgrown. What a great opportunity to see your best friend's daughter in that adorable dress with the matching hat your baby wore once.
  • Swap. I have several friends and acquaintances whose children are very close to my daughter's age. I now realize we could have done a better job of sharing baby items. I could have passed along some things and saved my friends some money -- not to mention helped the environment by reducing the environmental burden of production, shipping, and packaging new products.
  • Pay it forward. Continue the tradition beyond your newborn. Have a birthday party in which everyone chips in for one larger gift or in which guests have to bring a used item. This helps steer your children away from a consumerism mentality and toward learning to love what they have.

photo: Sang Trinh

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Comments

kerrym16 picture
kerrym16
03/03/10
I am expecting or first baby in about 8 weeks and have been buying a lot of used items as I see no point in spending money for things that are just as good used. I've also joined a local moms group and people are often giving things away for free! So many baby items are used for a year or even less time, it doesn't make sense to buy things new. I'll be paying it forward and passing these same items along for free when my baby outgrows them. It's expensive enough for essentials like diapers and daycare, if you can save a few pennies on boppies and hand-me-downs it is totally worth it.
katiegzap picture
katiegzap
02/27/10
I second all of the above ideas! We have an 11-month-old, and we try to get things second hand for him whenever we can. There is a local resale shop that my husband and I love to support for several reasons: * It saves a lot of money. For example, we bought a high chair and umbrella stroller there for a total of $20. Both work just fine. * We are keeping the items that we purchase there out of the landfills for a little bit longer. Plus, that's fewer new items that are being shipping across the country. * The money we spend there goes to support local low-income families. Everybody wins!