Teaching My Son To Be Environment Friendly
Why my son used pre-used baby gear, is a member of a toy library and hands down his clothes, shoes and toys
We all love a good gift
All of us love our children and want to give him/her the best we can afford to. We as a family aren’t any different. We want to give him the best too. However, the society in which we live believe a lot in buying new things – expensive things, exorbitantly expensive baby gear, clothes which last your child for just maybe a month, toy which your child will play with for a week or so forget about it. Not only you but your entire extended family goes on a shopping overdrive. In a matter of months, we have baby clutter around us.
A penny saved is a penny earned
I came from a family where we believed that every penny saved is a penny earned so I went about saving pennies for my son now.
I save them all up to give him a good education in the future, some more books to make him smarter and maybe a drum kit if he wants to be a professional musician (those don’t come cheap, I know because I am a musician too!).
So I went about figuring out what are some things that I can buy pre-used without compromising on my son’s safety, things which I can reuse and give away to someone in need (while doing a good deed for the environment) and what I can do to give him more for less (like subscribing to a toy library).
Prudence comes easy. Why the discrimination when it comes to our kids?
Indians are probably most prudent and frugal race in the world – in that they are probably the lowest users of credit cards and saving comes naturally for us, it is amazing that we totally forget all of this when it comes to getting something new for our children. This is probably the new rich generation who has disposable money more than their parents and probably the first generation that is actually using baby gear and products of an international standard. That makes us less tight fisted with our money.
Here are some genuine reasons why we shirk from acquiring pre-used goods especially for our children and hoard on the new stuff, albeit at astronomical prices:
1. “Of course we can afford them. Even if it costs an arm and a leg, money is no matter for our little prince / princess.” If you can’t afford it, your extended family will buy it for you!
2. “What will my neighbours say? That we got our child something “old”?
3. “Is it safe? Is it clean? Has it been sanitised?”
4. “I don’t know the person selling this to me. Is it priced right? Is it value for money?” (Incidentally we seldom question this when we buy new products)
What pre-used products are safe to buy?
We Indians are value conscious, and I can bet that if we are provided with an opportunity to get great condition branded stuff at half the price, we would surely make use of it. Only the concerns of assurance and hygiene need to be taken care of. So here is a list of things which are safe for you to buy for your child:
- Baby clothes: If someone donates clothes for your kid, receive them with open arms. These can be easily sanitised and used by your baby. Make sure all the buttons, zips and stitches are in place.
- Cribs: I bought a first-hand crib. Yes and what a waste that was. I never let my son sleep in that, because I was more comfortable co-sleeping with him. So it would have saved nearly half the money on the crib if I bought a used one. Make sure that this is safe and sanitised before you buy.
- High chairs and boosters: You never know if your kid will like this or not. I learnt it the hard way after I paid through my nose for a crib and a bouncer. Crib was never used and bouncer was used to stand. So I decided to buy a used booster chair for my son. He never liked it. I didn’t feel bad buying it for one-third the original price and was very happy when I could resell it for half the price I bought! Again, watch out for the safety of the product.
- Car seats: I bought a new car seat because I wasn’t sure if it is safe to buy second hand. However if the car seat hasn’t gone through accidents with all buckles, clasps and best in place, I think this is a safe thing to buy. In Mumbai, you really can’t get into an accident with the roads choc-a-bloc with traffic to an extent where the baby car seat (usually in the back seat of a car) is affected!
- Toys, ride-ons, playgyms: Some of these educational, battery operated toys are priced exorbitantly! Buy them second hand for sure. Watch out for wear and tear. I bought two play gyms and several toys second hand from an online store called precared.com
- Walkers: Most parents don’t want to buy walkers but I found this very cool walker online – I checked for its safety and got this for less than half the original price! My son used it for a month and then began walking! I am so glad I didn’t buy a new one.
- Strollers: Just like the car seat, opt for one which is high on safety and completely sanitised.
Recycling gifts, gear and toys which I got
- Baby bath tub: I now use the bathtub to a toy tray. My son uses it as one of his toys during the day and a bathtub during the night. I also have plans to use it as a planter when he grows out of it.
- Crib: My son’s crib is nicely folded and stacked away. I plan to make it into reading corner for him since he likes to read so much! I also used it at one point as a playpen and filled it up with coloured balls – perfect for tactile stimulation.
- Walker and swing: I gave this away to a friend’s child born 6 months after my son. For a price of course.
- Baby clothes: Most of my son’s clothes were hand-me-downs. So I then passed it to children belonging to my friend, my house maid’s children and her sister’s children. The ones which I loved I kept and I plan to make a memory quilt out of it for my son’s 2nd birthday
So why the toy library?
You have a library for books. So why not a toy library for toys? A fairly new concept in India, toy libraries just bowled me over. Ride-ons, trampolines, play yards, cycles, battery operated toys, early learning toys – stuff that is expensive but are so much fun for your child are available, safe, clean and sanitised here in these libraries. Imagine the fun your kid can have, without boring a hole in your pocket and finishing your life-savings What’s more, you can introduce new toys every week giving your baby enough variety to play with.
So how do we make a change?
Even a small change can make a big difference. Here is what we all can do and know to becoming discerning buyers and users of gently used baby products:
- Be informed buyers of pre-used goods. Check for safety and cleanliness of the products
- Believe that you are saving up pennies for your child’s future. You can buy more variety of toys for cheaper.
- Know that babies never really wear things out. So you can buy them things which are gently used, use them gently and then give them away.
- Believe that you are doing the environment a favour. You are buying lesser non-biodegradable stuff – the environment will be cleaner for your child as he grows up
- Believe in the practice so you can influence others too. No one will question your judgement.
- Influence your child’s thinking. You share his things now; he will share as he grows. He will adopt environment friendly practices as he grows up. He will waste less!
Let’s make small changes to reap bigger benefits for our children for their future.
Janice is a communications professional, a social media enthusiast and a mother of two boys (one deceased). A keen follower of parenting trends, she dotes on her son while photographing him and anything that catches her fancy. An ardent foodie, she cooks traditional and modern recipes – compiling all of it on her blog – ilivetoeatblog.wordpress.com. Working with startups and entrepreneurs on their communications strategies with her partner during the day, she has just enough time in the day to read, write and tweet @janoella.