Many of you who follow me on Instaram now know that we are expecting our second little person in the very early days of next year. To say we are excited is a MASSIVE understatement.
It got us thinking about the environmental impact a little person has, in particular, in the early years of their life when they go through everything from nappies (many of which are disposable) to clothes, toys and other very ‘age’ specific toys and accessories at such a rapid rate.
I remember thinking ‘Oliver hasn’t even worn that!’ when he was a wee little man and for being disappointed that I hadn’t used it even once. It felt wasteful and very irresponsible. Most, if not all, mainstream baby clothes are mass produced in conditions that I can’t vouch for and put a lot of pressure on manufacturing, waste and pollution. Furthermore, I am determined to not get sucked into the ‘guilty parent’ trap that companies love to use, especially on new mothers, convincing us that what’s ‘best for baby’ is a fancy rocker that’s battery powered and can do six things at once. Another thing I find remarkable is that everything only has one use, for example, the little blanket your little muffin sleeps under in their cot, can’t possibly go in the pram, you need a ‘pram blanket’ or car/bath/floor toys?! Let’s get a little bit of perspective, shall we?
I’d like to talk about the focus we’re taking for this little person and the things that matter most to us as we venture down this path, hopefully a little wiser than last time.
Safety is obviously a priority for all parents. We are hiring a capsule for as long as is needed. This service ensures it’s fitted correctly and to standard, comes clean and fresh and it’s as simple as organising pick up when the little muffin outgrows it. No bulky item lying around, someone else will continue to use it and it supports a local business. Easy choice.
We still have the baby seat that comes next. A friend has been using it for her little girl in the meantime. Everyone wins.
Comfort and fun are no brainers. Everyone wants to give their baby a beautiful room, a soft place to sleep and stimulating and appropriate toys. What doesn’t sit with me is the pressure to get a massive list of brand new things, regardless of your baby’s interests and personality or the environmental impact your choices hold. Your baby isn’t about to pipe up and tell you that the space themed toy isn’t their first choice but they, just like the rest of us, have particular sights, sounds and textures that appeal to them and that they respond to. Taking a little time to get to know your brand new family member with only a couple of recycled toys is not a crime, in fact, it’s more responsible than the current trend if you ask me. Also, take a minute to think about where something was made and whether or not you know anything about the human and environmental price of the item, not just the monetary one.
Overarching all the elements in this journey is the aim to be as environmentally responsible as we can be and balancing wants vs needs. I’ve shifted the way I think about the whole ‘business’ of baby. That’s what it is, a business. However, with a little consideration and some determination you can bring it back to being about what you and your baby need, not the profit margins of those massive companies and their mass produced, plastic creations of ‘need’ and, more often than not, greed.
So to prove that it’s possible we have decided to go ‘Secondhand Baby’ style. We have begun to collect the essential, and even some nice extras that we will need in six months time when the muffins arrives. The twist? Everything is either secondhand or handmade. There is only one exception and that’s the cloth nappies. Everyone I know who uses them is still using them because the life of the nappy is so long. This could also be a hygiene issue. Everything else has been used before or has been given to the op shop because it was being wasted.
Not only has it been fun so far but a great challenge and has really made me consider what exactly we’ll need and how many of each item is necessary. I’m keeping a price list to show off at the end and also to keep a tally of sizes so I don’t get too many of a particular size and therefor have no need for it.
What twigged this genius idea was finding a gorgeous, simple, metal based bouncer at an op shop for $3! I had previously browsed the beloved Target and was shocked at how ugly, expensive and over the top all of their baby bouncers were. I was mortified. So much plastic, so many garish colours, freaky characters and accessories. Can’t the blinking thing just bounce a little when the baby moves? From memory, they love making things move on their own steam and unless they’re capable of picking a speed and sound setting, that aint happening in the deluxe model! After that i made a mental ‘stick it to the man’ gesture in the crowded baby aisle filled with expectant mothers and I walked out, happily empty handed.
I feel as if I have a responsibility to my children to do the best I can to curb our current and rapidly growing need for more, always more. This is coming at a price none of us can imagine or even fathom yet. This is a simple idea that will satisfy the need in me to try and do our bit as a family. A side of this that I almost neglected to mention is the savings!! My stash currently sits at eighteen items, ranging from singlets to the bouncer I previously gloated about. My total spend to date is $19.50. I have sheets, onsies, jackets and the most delightful hand knitted sleep suit I found today. I did a little op shop dance for that one. I personally don’t know of many young families that have big wads of cash to throw around. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing the total ‘price tage’ for all the essentials, I think you’ll be amazed, too. I will note that this wasn’t the catalyst for the project, merely a happy bi-product.
So, from here on in I will be posting the progress of my little project, both making the baby (but you’ve all seen a baby bump before) and the gorgeous finds I pick up at my local secondhand stores. Follow me on Instagram, too. I’ll be using #2ndhandbaby to collate all the finds and I encourage you to do the same. If you’re lucky enough to be welcoming another family member soon, show me what you find. Amazing pieces are waiting to be found in the treasure troves that are our local charity and secondhand shops.
If you’re not in baby mode, just do me a favour and consider buying secondhand and questioning where and how the things you ‘must’ have are made.
I also have a manageable list of DIYs for the muffin that I will be sharing here. I’ll link you in with any other cool ideas around sustainability and baby stuff that I come across as well.
Peace and a gorgeous baby outfit with a tiny, tiny price tag. 😉