The leaves cover the ground like a red and yellow patchwork blanket; I fight the chill with some steaming apple cider and a fluffy blanket of my own. Like so many moms this month, I made the annual pilgrimage to our favorite clothing store, Once Upon a Child, to keep our children warm through the coming months. I skip the lines at Target and opt to go to the much smaller and locally-owned, second-hand store.
Will my kids be wearing the latest fashions and name brands? Nope, because they have absolutely no idea what that means and no interest in keeping up with the Kardashians. We live on a tight budget; my husband and I both work, but have to make certain sacrifices so that we can homeschool our children. We can’t afford to dress our kids in Adidas or even Cat & Jack.
As a new mom a few years back, I was admittedly disappointed in not being able to dress up my adorable toddler in the newest, frilliest dresses. However, I quickly learned why I would soon advocate for buying second hand.
Depending on where you typically shop, buying second hand can save you hundreds of dollars a year. Children outgrow their clothing within a few months of purchase. Why pay so much for something that will get such little wear? Yes, of course, our children are adorable and should be dressed as such. I agree, and if you want to find very cute clothing for your kids, you can absolutely find beautiful outfits second hand.
Even my kids, who rip holes in every knee and accumulate mud and grass stains from hip to toe, have a few outfits we keep in the closet for special occasions. I am not a skilled-enough housewife to patiently clean every stain I encounter when I do their laundry. Knowing that their clothing was bought for fifty cents really helps lessen the guilt of a drippy popsicle stain or paint splatters.
Another wonderful reason to shop second hand is that you are helping reduce your carbon footprint by lessening the demand on the supply chain. You’ve heard the phrase since you were in elementary school – reduce, reuse, recycle. That includes reusing clothing! Whether it be from a second-hand store, yard sales, or your nieces and nephews, if there is still life in clothing, reuse it! If you are crafty like I hope to be one day, you can also design pieces of clothing to make it a little chicer! My children are still young, but in the future, I plan to teach them (and myself) how to sew. They can learn about fashion, be creative, and get a huge sense of pride from making or updating their own clothes.
But why stop second hand there?
If you’re open to second hand, don’t forget about second-hand toys! The Earth would definitely appreciate less plastic in landfills in a few years’ time. Buying second hand has become a lifestyle for us. We are slowly fixing up our house we bought last year, parts of the house were literally falling to pieces. We have scoured the internet to find the cutest used items. For example, our kitchen sink is an old double washboard that looks like it belongs in a quaint countryside farmhouse. The sink was purchased off of Facebook Marketplace for a fraction of what you would pay at a store. To be fair, it did need a considerable amount of work to restore it, but the effort was worth the reward.
If you buy second hand, don’t forget about paying it (or getting paid) forward! Many of our children’s clothes, whatever could be salvaged from their play, has been sold back to Once Upon a Child. With whatever money we receive back, the kids are allowed to go buy some books or toys from the store. Whatever couldn’t be sold was then donated to charity.
Recently, dear friends have had new children and the clothes will be saved for them. Books and toys that have been outgrown were gifted to the little boy two doors down, giving them a second life and eliminating more waste from our household. A lot of people look down on hand-me-downs or second-hand items, but this lifestyle has been a blessing for our family and we hope to continue the cycle and be a blessing for more families to come.