I just discovered a great new blog that I’m really enjoying. Nature Mommy is written by Deborah Schneider, and is packed full of ideas about sustainable, eco- and budget-friendly parenting. She and her husband are prospective foster-adoptive parents, and her blog is a great read for both current and future parents.
One of her posts, second-hand vs. sustainable, really resonated with me. Sustainable, eco-friendly living is very high on the list of priorities for my husband and me. We work hard to minimize our impact on the planet, and we definitely fall into the second-hand camp in the debate Deborah described. The way I see it, any time we buy something second-hand, we’re contributing to a good cause (we mostly shop at Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity thrift stores) and we’re also completely eliminating the need for new products to be manufactured for our use. In addition, we’re able to stretch our family’s budget much farther than it would have gone if we opted to buy things new.
Another great post on Deborah’s blog is about the baby gear she’s purchased, mostly used. Our son is 20 months old, and our family budget has changed very little since he was born. I see so many reports that warn parents about how their costs will go up dramatically when they have a child. And I see plenty of my own friends – some of whom do not have a lot of money – spending big bucks on matching nursery furniture, coordinated bedding sets, disposable diapers, fancy toys… I feel sad for them, especially the ones who are struggling financially. For us, the two major expenses since having our son have been his health insurance premiums (about $100/month) and his college savings account (another $100/month). The health insurance is absolutely essential in my opinion. The college fund is great if you can swing it, but plenty of kids get through college on scholarships and part time jobs, and a child is not going to be ruined because his parents couldn’t afford to pay for all or part of his education (we don’t plan to pay for all of it, but $100/month for 18 years will make a dent in his tuition bills someday). Other than those two things, we’ve spent very little on our son. We purchased a carseat and an organic crib mattress new, pretty much everything else has come from thrift stores and hand me downs. Our son plays with jars of spices, pots and pans, wooden spoons, and large quantities of plain wooden second-hand blocks. His crib sheets came from a thrift store, as do all of his clothes, and his curtains were made from second-hand sheets. My mother and I made all of his diapers from old flannel sheets, t-shirts, and fleece sweatshirts. We have probably spent less than $100 on diapering for 20 months, and the second-hand, high-efficiency, front-loading washing machine we got last summer has cut down dramatically on how much water it takes to keep the diapers clean.
Our frugal parenting is great for our our budget, but it’s also great for the environment, as we’re not contributing to a demand for new stuff, most of which would only be used for a short time, given how quickly children grow. If you have a minute, I recommend taking a peek at Deborah’s blog and being inspired to live a life that is easier on your wallet and our world.