Last November 23rd I live-streamed our challenge; to try not to buy anything new for 12 months which seemed mad, or at least very ambitious, with two young children a month before Christmas. Of course, there were exceptions and we had realistic expectations but we were excited to use it as an opportunity to analyse our consumer habits and explore other options. There were some unforeseen curveballs; mainly in the form of breakages and babies. Although we've sourced birthday items, fancy dress, clothes, Christmas presents, and school uniforms secondhand, after trying to make do and mend, we HAVE had to buy some things new: a showerhead, a mobile phone, period pants, and a vacuum cleaner for example, but when we have bought new we tried to buy small, local and sustainable, making considered purchases that will last rather than impulse buys. So what did we learn? The Power of Preloved: From all our baby equipment for Toastie to gifts, clothes, books, toys, and more we have a suite of sites, shops and groups we now go to source secondhand stuff for free. This also means we can pass things on when we're done with them for others to enjoy; creating a circular economy and opening conversations about the power of preloved. Some of our favourites are: For clothes: -Preloved to Reloved for Postage (Facebook) -The Great British Clothes Swap (Facebook) -Mojo&Co (Use RUTH10 for 10% off) -Scandi/Frugi/Little Bird BST/Preloved pages (Facebook) -Scandily Clad Ladies (Facebook) -Sweetpea Preloved -Ebay -Facebook Marketplace -Vinted -Depop -Popsy Preloved (for my Popsy dress fix on Facebook) -Pure Bundle -Big Sister Swap For general household and garden items, toys, clothes etc: -The Cabbage Patch Hartburn -PercyMiddlesborough -Play It Forward pages -Facebook Marketplace -Scandi Fanatics Clear Your Attics (Facebook) -Freecycle -Gumtree -The Great British Toy Swap (Facebook) -Local charity shops, car boot sales and fairs For books -The library! -World of Books -Book Swap -Hand Me Down Book Shop -Ebay The Borrowers:
When it came to carpet cleaners, books and seasonal items we learned to love the library, rock a rental or swap it. This has been great as we haven't added to the clutter constantly but still benefitted from the feeling of having something 'new.' We will definitely continue this from now on. Free Love:
We have been given so much for free, even food from sites such as Olio, and we have learned to make fun for free and saved ourselves so much money in the process. We have even sourced some of the kids' Christmas presents, birthday presents and uniform for free.
Find Your Tribe:
So I mentioned we'd borrowed or been given stuff free but what has really helped that is finding a tribe; whether via some of the pages mentioned above or our own family, friends and community we are so lucky and grateful to have found and created a strong tribe we can share with and borrow from/lend to and also be honest about not buying new stuff. This has really helped us find info/ideas/inspiration or changed our mindset. Think First: Even when we have resorted to buying new, we tried to borrow, source secondhand or make do first; when we've exhausted the options, we look to buy the best we can in terms of ethics, quality and 'cradle to grave' or 'cradle to cradle' impact. The main shift has been our mindset; the kids have stopped asking for stuff, I don't shop to deal with my emotions and we don't give into the peer pressure, especially on social media, of the must-have purchases. In short: we think first, buy second.
So what now? I think we'll definitely continue to do these things and not buy new. Although I'm absolutely realistic that with three small children and busy family life in a normal town we will need to buy some things, not buying new has taught us to value what we have, and I don't need to go back to buying new.