As if you were poor and couldn’t buy her new stuff… Don’t you love your child, that you give her second-hand toys? Iewww…second-hand?!?! Stuff full of germs and touched by hands you-don’t-have-any-idea-who?!?! Oh no, we don’t want to use cheap stuff. You asked why? Well, because they are cheap!
These are some questions and comments we heard when we say we merely give our daughter second-hand stuff (toys, clothes, furnitures).
No, according to the governmental statistics we don’t belong to the category “poor”, and we are very grateful for that. Yes, we love our child so much so we try our best to be aware of what we give to her, not in terms of stuff, but more than that. Oh, and we don’t believe in any correlations between love and second-hand stuff. We always wash and clean up every second-hand stuff thoroughly before using it. And we luckily don’t suffer from image problems of using cheap stuff. 😉
Enough dealing with others. Let us now give you the real reasons: Why do we give our daughter (she just turns 2 last month) second-hand stuff?
In the Netherlands we have an online second-hand site called the Marktplaats, where you can buy almost everything, from cars to animals and from artworks to vacations. If we search under the category “children and baby’s”, within 5 km range from our house, we will get 19.445 hits. No kidding. That many stuff is ever bought and now waiting uselessly somewhere in the dusty attics of the many houses around ours. (PS: How about if you don’t have such a website in your home country? Maybe it’s an idea to start by yourself, by organizing a garage sale or an exchange-evening, among friends and families, or maybe bigger?)
- Appreciation of stuff.
We are proud that our daughter has learned the lesson of reuse and recycle in her young age. We believe this will make her less selfish too. When her clothes are getting too small she will say: “for other child”. When she gets a new toy she knows: “from other child”. And she is happy with every single (little) thing she gets. We want her to appreciate things based on what they do, not because of the brand or the price.
- Lower price.
Obvious. Second-hand stuff will probably cost less than 50% compared to new. People say that having a child is extremely expensive. Well, it depends. There are ways to make it less expensive. But it’s your choice. When you feel ashamed of using second-hand stuff or when you determine to give ‘only the best’ for your child (and also determine that ‘the best’ is only equal to ‘new’), then we’ve done talking here.
Next to the far reduced price, we can often resell the stuff with the same price we bought them (or pass them through for free for others in need). This happens a lot when we have done something extra’s, which brings into the next point:
- Enhancing creativity.
Instead of only cleaning up, we sometimes have to (lightly) repair, modify or combine the stuff. A bike which needs extra grease, a coat which misses a button, a boring toy box, a toy set which is not complete…you got the idea. People tend to throw things away (or throw them to the dusty attic) once they start showing signs of little malfunction. Why?
- Environmental concern (look back at nr.1).
A simple thought: look at all the undegradable plastic material our children are playing with nowadays. How about reusing them instead of throwing away? This will sound cliché, but how much environmental issues could we prevent by reducing the demands for new products? By shortening the whole lifecyle of a product, starting from the material, production, and logistics?
- Health concern.
How many of you open a new package of stuff and say: “Hmm…smells like new!” What do you actually smell there?
Newly produced stuff has a greater chance of being recently exposed to chemical ingredients. It might sound weird, but that’s what we learn and believe (with our chemical and product design experience). And in case of germs-exposure, we are followers of the ´vaccines principle´, which means we don´t want to raise our daughter in a sterile environment “free” of germs. That will be disastrous for her body resistance.
- Control the greed.
“Shopping” on a second-hand site is different than going into a store, where everything seems like sweets and candies for our eyes. Searching online, you will have to be more specific in looking for what you need. I often find myself first searching the internet to find ideas. What kind of toys could be interesting for my daughter at her age? And when she’s still a baby: what specifications should a safety gate, a bouncing chair or a crib fulfill? Once we got the information, then we go searching for the suitable second-hand stuff. We always found what we were looking for. Sometimes directly, sometimes after waiting for a while. No greed or unnecessary buy is involved. We are far from being minimalists (our house is still full with toys!), but this article has beautifully explained why fewer toys will actually benefit your kids.
- To avoid/reduce hassles in a toy store. This is a funny side effect, but have you ever seen a child who is not interested in a toy store? Well, that would be our daughter (for now, at least!). She will occasionally enter a toy store to look at or play with the toys there. But when we leave the store, she will hand in everything back. 😀
Our latest purchase? This beautiful scooter, in amazing condition, for about 16% of it’s new price! 😉
How about you? Do (/would) you use second-hand stuff?