By Anna Lahr at Baby Awearness
When I think of the holidays I always think of giving back to the community. One thing I like to do is really look at all of the "junk" around my house and determine what I don't need anymore. I know I'll be getting some new things (holidays and our anniversary actually fall in that time frame!) so I try to make room for the gifts we exchange as a family. I also like to start out the New Year feeling fresh and positive and one way I do that is to "de-clutter" my house.
I remember when I was a child my mom would ask my sister and I to go through all of the things we didn't want or need anymore. We did this a few times a year, usually in the summer before we started school as well as in the winter time, this coincided when we usually got new clothes so I think my mom was on to something ;) When we were done we'd take the bags of toys, books, shoes and clothes to a local thrift store, our favorites being the ones that gave back to the community in some way other than just selling goods. Fittingly, these were also some of the same stores we went when we were shopping for new clothes! Looking back I'm very glad my mom instilled this practice in us. We never grew up thinking we were too good for used items and in fact got a lot of nice things we otherwise may not have been able to afford. We weren't "poor" but I think we were able to afford a lot of other nice things like camp or vacation because my mom saved us money on things like clothing.
Fast forward to being pregnant with a daughter of my own and I'm hearing from every angle "New babies can be SO expensive!" Since my husband and I were tight on money I looked for ways around this. I bought used, accepted hand-my-downs and looked on freecycle as much as I could. My daughter's cloth diapers were either free from freecycle or friends or bought from other moms whose children had already loved and outgrown them. When my daughter outgrew some of those diapers (and I had to make room for more, of course!) I passed them along to a friend of mine who was new to cloth diapering.
I recently went through a lot of my daughter's teeny tiny things and either donated them or set them aside. Some of them I plan to offer up to Baby A Exchange and others I'm holding on to in case I have another baby... somewhere down the road.
The beautiful thing to me about all of this is the continuing life these items have had and will continue to have. I have been blessed and been able to save a great deal and what I did have to spend I feel good about because the money either went to another family or helped some charitable store provide services to the community. There's less wasted on packaging and production and I feel confident in the quality of these products because they've stood the test of time for me and others.
In a world plagued by consumerism and waste this makes me feel like I'm making a difference. Instead of mindlessly consuming "throw away" items I'm recycling and paying it forward. I especially love it this time of year when money is tight and people are trying to provide for their families an enjoyable holiday season. I get to feel a little better about all of the blessings I've received without feeling guilty that there are others less fortunate because I'm doing something to help them. Every body wins!