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Toronto, Canada

312 Adelaide Street West, Suite 301
Toronto, Ontario - M5V 1R2
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Why it’s Only the (Second) Best for my Family

Written by Melissa Robertson

Do you buy new? Our writer shares why she chooses to avoid the stores and save her money and the environment.  

My kids are growing up in a world of hand-me-downs and thrift store hunting and frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Going Green

I may be cheap and cheerful, but my style of parenting is actually green and edgy. In fact, by refusing to buy most of our clothing brand new, we are helping to decrease our carbon footprint at a time when it is sorely needed. In fact, the average Canadian purchases 70 new clothing items each year which contribute to the 12 million tons of textile waste being thrown in North American landfills each year.

While many may feel they are doing their part by donating their unwanted cast-offs to clear their closet, only about 25 percent of donated items are actually sold.

So what happens to the other 75? About 25 percent are sold abroad, 30 percent are cut down to use as rags, 20 percent are ground down and reprocessed and five percent are sent to landfill.

While those numbers are staggering, I often find myself concerned with the numbers a lot closer to home-my clothing budget. Buying second hand is a great way to afford higher quality clothing for you and your family and to help a fellow family. I personally choose to use small clothing resale businesses to support local as well as sites such as Varagesale and Reshopper.

Secondhand done right

When I am looking for a certain type of clothing, for example, summer clothes in size five, I will look online for a seller who has a large amount to offer. That way I can avoid extra driving around and ask for a bulk price. They are able to get rid of a larger amount of clothing and I am able to save gas and money. Win-win.

I only buy clothing from smoke-free homes. This lessens the chance of getting stinky clothing that you may not be able to use.

I insist on doing a porch pick-up for my own safety. Clothing purchases are generally fairly low cost, but I will e-transfer funds to avoid going into someone’s home. I would rather lose $20 than my life.

I choose higher quality brands that I know will usually last. This way I am able to capitalize on my purchase and use it for more than one child.

There are some items that I will not buy used, such as underwear, bathing suits, and shoes. I also avoid buying certain ‘budget’ brands that I know do not stand up to the test of time.

My Reason Why

While my reason to shop used may stem from frugality, there are so many benefits beyond just money saving and green living. By shopping used I am teaching my daughters the value of money. For example, when my daughter had five dollars from the tooth fairy, I explained to her what she would be able to buy in a store, and then was able to show her what kind of toy she could buy used online.

Buying used also allows my children the freedom to experiment with their clothing. Many of their outfits come as pieces rather than matchy-matchy two-piece sets on a hanger.

My kids are able to get creative with their fashion choices and have developed a sense of style all their own.

Despite my commitment to thrifty finds, I still find myself buying more clothing brand new than I should, but I hope the shocking numbers of throwaway clothing will help strengthen my reserve.

Do you buy second hand? What are some of the best places to find second-hand gear? Let us know in the comments!


*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Parent Life Network or their partners.