Tag Archives: reuse

The 3 Rs with a Baby, Part 2: Reuse

Yesterday’s post covered some of the areas you can reduce what you buy for baby. It’s a challenging topic, but very worthwhile. Today’s topic is in many ways one of the easiest:


There are just so many things you can reuse with a baby. Their needs are pretty simple, and many baby items can go from child to child to child with no problem at all.

This is particularly true among friends and extended family. You can cut down the cost of having raising a baby as well as the environmental impact if you’re fortunate in available handmedowns.

Baby clothes are the classic, especially in the smaller sizes that tend to be all too prevalent as baby shower gifts. So many outfits get worn once, maybe twice, maybe not at all before baby outgrows them.

If you’re lucky, you have handmedowns, and plenty of them.

CPSIA has made buying used baby items potentially more difficult. No one is quite sure what’s happening there, or what the one year delay really means, if anything. So many statements made have a note at the bottom that they may not be the official position of the CPSC, making it impossible to tell if they mean it or not.

Hopefully things will clear up soon in favor of making it easily possible to reuse appropriate items for children.

Don’t Forget…

Someone else can probably reuse the items your baby used. Keep the cycle going as long as each item is worth reusing.

Getting Away From Disposable Dishes

I have long been careful to use as few disposable items as possible in my daughter’s school lunches. It’s so much cheaper to buy and use reusable bottles and containers for her food.

It also ensures that she doesn’t throw everything out at school, and I know how she’s eating. But that’s just a side benefit.

But with my son’s birthday coming up, I keep thinking about the disposable dish use for most birthday parties. Just seems kind of silly to be wasting those.

One idea I’ve read about that I really like is hitting the thrift stores for cheap, old dishes and silverware to use for parties. I like that. It’s great for the budget if you keep them, or if you don’t like them, back they can go. Donating to thrift stores is very easy.

I like the idea of keeping them, of course. That’s just the cheapest way to go.

The challenge, of course, is finding dishes that young children can handle with minimal risk of breakage. Plastic dishes are of course not that great an idea.

There are other times you should be looking at your use of disposable dishes. Some people bring their own containers to restaurants to bring home leftovers. It’s a bit more challenging in some ways for take out, as you may have called ahead, plus the restaurant has a standard way they get food ready. But if you’re nice when you ask and have your containers ready, they may cooperate with a smile.

Quitting disposable dishes is challenging, but it can be a great conversation starter, both with family and complete strangers. It’s an extra step to take a lot of the time, but really not all that inconvenient once you build the habit.

How Green Has My Pregnancy Been?

Here I am, on the homestretch of this whole pregnancy thing. I’m pretty pleased with how the whole thing has gone.

First of all, I bought very few new clothes. Total costs for new clothes for this pregnancy was probably under $100, with the largest piece being my maternity girdle – a must as new since I wanted very good elastic. It really helped me get through some of the horrendous hip pain.

Aside from that, just some maternity jeans and shorts when I couldn’t find used. That’s it. I still had enough shirts from either past pregnancies or that were old enough already that stretching them out didn’t matter. Plus a couple larger shirts handed down from my sister for just in case I needed to go larger.

Drove my mother-in-law nuts. She had been thinking about taking me shopping.

We even have an infant car seat promised. My oldest sister doesn’t need her old one, and while you aren’t supposed to buy them used for safety reasons, I have no problem with a used one with a known history. My mother just called last night to point out that she has a reversible car seat that she wants to keep on hand in general, but she can loan us until my sister can dig hers out of storage when they move into their new house. I love not having to buy things!

My goal is to have this baby as naturally as possible. I keep getting the “you’re nuts” response from people, but I really believe I can do this. My husband is supportive if occasionally clueless. I think he finally understands that HE is not to talk about “and if it’s too painful…”

I need him more positive than that.

Quite possibly the least green thing we’ve had to do is shop for a minivan. I keep saying sedan, but I don’t seem to be winning that debate. It would be tight with 3 kids in the backseat, but doable. I grew up that way, although I will concede that car seats were used far less back then. But since the current car is not up to the job, a second vehicle must come to be. SOON!

No choice but to get used; we don’t have the budget for new, although I would love the added flexibility on gas mileage. I always prefer to keep a vehicle as long as possible anyhow, typically until it’s not worth the money to me to repair it.

A plus is our ability to reuse so many handmedowns. Selene won’t be getting much new stuff, but babies don’t really need that anyhow. They don’t know the difference, and they can learn to appreciate whatever you give them if you don’t make it a big deal.

And of course, cloth diapers, as I’ve said before.

All in all, I feel pretty good about the pregnancy, and how we have things planned to start out for baby.

What Not to Buy Used for Your Baby

Lots of things that you can buy for your baby are just fine being purchased used. Clothes are perhaps the prime example. Babies outgrow them so fast that many baby clothes are barely used by the time they become handmedowns or hit the thrift or resale shops. They’re hardly worth buying new.

Some things should absolutely not be bought used for baby. Others should be bought used only with caution.

1. Car seats.

Did you know that car seats come with an expiration date? Generally this is after about 6 years. The plastic in them does get old!

This has actually lead my husband and I to look into new car seats for the baby coming soon. Perhaps not, as my sister has a newer one. But our old one was past its expiration date, and there’s just no compromising on safety.

The other problem is that you don’t know if someone is selling a car seat that has been in an accident. Even after a minor accident, car seats are supposed to be replaced and disposed of. And of course there’s the issue of recalls.

2. Breast pumps.

This especially goes for mechanical ones. Hand operated units are cheaper, and you could boil enough of the parts that I suppose they could be safe enough if bought used. But the financial savings may not be enough.

Consumer Reports has a post with people debating this one a little. The question comes down to whether or not you can sterilize enough parts for it to be safe. La Leche League International also has some good information on why you should not share a pump. The risks of cross contamination are quite small, but most do not find it worth the risk.

A good pump is a bit pricey, up to $400 or so, and vital for anyone working outside the home while trying to breastfeed. But the money it saves in avoiding formula is well worth the cost and trouble.

Rental units are presumably made to be completely sterilized before being rented to someone else.

3. Cribs.

Slightly used may be fine. Made before 2000, and it may not meet current safety standards. The CPSC offers a checklist for crib safety that you can consider if you decide to shop for a used crib.

4. Play yards.

Essentially, recalls and changing standards are the big reason for this one. Add these to issues with how play yards can be used or damaged in regular use, and an older one may just not be safe enough.

5. Slings and carriers.

Another case of recalls and aging issues. The materials can be damaged with normal use, and so a used sling may not be as safe as you think.

Of course, anything where recalls may be the issue you can do your research and see if any used item you’re considering has been recalled. That goes for toys and clothing as well as any of these items that are generally not recommended for buying used.

If there aren’t any recalls, look into what makes an item safe to use if you’re still shopping used. But be very, very sure of what you’re doing. Reusing is a great idea, so long as it doesn’t endanger anyone.

Are You Recycling Right? What About Reusing?

November 15 is America Recycles Day. It’s a nice concept, but as this article on TreeHugger points out, not quite perfect.

Recycling, quite simply, is not always the answer. Using reusable containers is a better solution whenever it’s practical. The article doesn’t really get into the times when recycling really is the best option, however. There’s only so much paper you can reuse, even with children all too interested in doing crafts.

But when you’re talking about drink containers, reusable is a great idea. That’s why buying reusable bottles is so encouraged, rather than buying bottled water.

It’s more difficult with a lot of other drinks. In my area I can save a lot by buying milk in gallons rather than half gallons. The cartons are more recyclable, of course, but the gallon jugs are at least #2 plastic, and so reasonably recyclable.

The challenge with putting larger quantities of milk into something more reusable or recyclable is that they would probably end up heavier. Glass bottles are great for reusing or recycling, but they’re HEAVY in comparison with plastic or cartons.

Then again, I have read about the new milk jugs Walmart has been distributing since earlier this year. They’re more efficient for storage and transportation. Reusable would be nice, but we can’t have everything every time.

The part we as consumers need to look at, of course, is whether we can encourage more reusable containers where recyclable ones are now preferred. We also need to consider how these containers get back for refills. Should they just go in with the current recyclables for convenience, and then be shipped from a central point? Will enough people bring back reusable containers even to get a deposit back?

It’s rarely so simple a question. But we need an answer.

For now, when you shop, think about not just recyclable containers, but reusable as well. They don’t have to be reused by you, but there’s a reason why reuse is more important than recycle.