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In with the Old: Tips for Recycling Your Children’s Items

Why parents are choosing to kick consumer habits and embrace used or recycled items
Author: Alley L. Biniarz
4 years ago
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In a world of more, newer, and better, parents are figuring out the benefits to repairing what they already own, buying previously owned items, or finding innovative ways to reuse everyday household items.

Solutions that thrifty families have been instituting for years are being rebranded with buzz-terms like “upcycling” or “repurposing.” With a similar motive to save money, frugal families are also helping to decrease environmental waste and are reconnecting with their material items.

Here are a few tips on how—and why—parents today are saying goodbye to the “new” and embracing the old.

New Toys are Expensive

Most children quickly outgrow toys and objects. While handing down used toys to younger parents is a tradition as old as toys themselves, parents can get creative in repurposing those playthings. Kristen May took old kitchen playsets that have long been ignored and repurposed them as mud kitchens. She also uses old tractor tires as sand/gravel boxes. This gives new life to household objects and keeps big plastics out of the landfill.

It’s EASY! Just Start Small

Jess Rose says that if she can do it, anyone can. This “simple solution” mom says radically changing every aspect of your life can seem daunting, so start with what you can. Take your old receiving blankets and sew them into cloth wipes once your baby has switched to eating solids. “You get so many of them at your baby shower, but you don’t need them after three months.” Repurposed cloth wipes save money on paper towels, are softer for the baby, and decrease waste.

Kids Outgrow Clothes Quickly

Candace Morris almost never purchases new clothes for her boys. Why would she? They either get it dirty or outgrow it in months. Between Facebook “buy and sell” groups for moms, local consignment stores, garage sales, or clothing swaps between family members, she gets everything she needs. She says there’s a fun community feel to swapping clothes or wearing family members’ well loved “hand-me-downs,” and it’s definitely not as looked down upon societally as it once was.

Get your Kids in on the Fun!

“Make it fun and get your kids involved so it’s not upsetting to them when you’ve purged their things.” Stacey Jones says that she sits her kids down and has them play the “donate” or “stay” game with her. This way, they understand the importance of their community donation and feel proud knowing their items are going to be loved again. Stacey’s task was to donate 40 items in 40 days, but she is going a step further and purging 40 bags of stuff this spring alone.

Kick the CC Debt

Credit card debt and financial stress from overpurchasing leads to more time spent working and less time with the family. Brittany Ewing shares how household clutter led her to buy more because she couldn’t see what she already had. She suggests thinking about the practicality and usage of items before making new purchases, and when absolutely needing to buy “new”—wait. “Borrow from friends, buy one soother instead of that pack of 10, and just wait to see if your kids like the item. All a baby needs at first is their parents; they don’t need stuff and neither do you.”

Stick Together as Parents

Parents are a mighty force, but even mightier when standing together. Calli Ann says she donates to women’s shelters, family, and friends when she can because, “Once the baby arrived, we really saw what we needed and thought it was only fair to pass along the goodwill to others. We try to make the whole parenting part a bit more affordable and less overwhelming.”

With the expensive marketing tactics guilting parents into thinking they need to buy new for their growing baby, it’s crucial that parents stick together and share the wealth. Create a community where you can share tips, ideas, and swap (and recycle) items among each other.

Here are some great local venues where you can bring your child’s gently loved items:

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