Thoughtful Thursday: Used

August 30, 2012

Thoughtful ThursdayThis week’s topic comes from a comment that strongblonde left a couple of weeks ago.

As I’ve mentioned before, 95% of the clothes that I acquire for Burrito and Tamale are either hand-me-downs or come from consignment stores. I have bought just a few special articles of clothing. Most of their socks are new, because those don’t tend to last to get handed down or sold. I buy most of their underwear new, but they do have some used underwear. So, clearly, I have no limits when it comes to pre-owned clothing. My MIL was horrified when Burrito ran out of clean underwear one day at school and was sent home wearing communal underwear. As long as it’s clean and not yucky, I don’t mind. I wouldn’t personally wear used underwear, of course, but for children, whatever.

Quite a few of my own (non-underwear) clothes are consignment too. I actually prefer consignment shopping, not only for the cost savings but because the selection is so much broader in a consignment store than in any one retail store. I also enjoy the needle-in-a-haystack challenge of finding something that’s (A) my size, (B) my style, and (C) doesn’t look horrible.

Virtually all of the child, and adult, furniture in our house is new. I do have one little table that the prior owners of my last house happened to leave behind, and the bed in the guest room was purchased from a coworker who was moving away. I don’t inherently object to used furniture, but between style preferences and concerns like lead paint, few used items interest me. I wouldn’t get a used bed for myself, though. Gross. Hotel beds are gross enough, never mind one that I sleep in every night for a couple of decades.

Many of Burrito and Tamale’s books are hand-me-downs or consignment, as are some of their toys, but I’m actually quite picky about toys. Between lead concerns, BPA in plastics, recalls, choking hazards, chipping paint, developmental concerns… most used toys don’t meet my stringent standards. Even many of the new toys that they receive as gifts don’t meet my standards, and I end up passing the toys along to another kid whose parents aren’t so picky.

What things are okay to get used and what should you get new?

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16 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Used”

  1. St. Elsewhere Says:

    Figlia got a lot of hand-me-downs….thanks to line of new cousins born last year and all. Initially, she dressed in everything that was first someone else’s. However, after the first couple of months, I got her ‘new’ stuff and mixed it with her lot because

    a) used things were getting more and more tired looking.
    b) the needs had changed.
    c) and I wanted for Figlia to be able to see something she had, that was hers, and not permanently labeled as someone else’s first.

    Then I had the tricky part of having to choose what bits of things that I had for CBub to be used for her. Figlia’s comb is what I had procured for CBub initially. She does not use CBub’s toys though.

    Her personal hygiene products are not shared. Her massage sheet is used and almost in rags, but I will not change it (not yet).

    And everything that Figlia has got as a gift or as a hand-me-down which is not okay, is usually given away to someone who would make better use of it (a brand new dress that was small on her already, for example.)

    I am not sure if I would be willing to purchase used clothing for myself, even though I have been gifted some, and have used it. I am not sure if I will stake out and specifically buy used goods.

  2. Aryanhwy Says:

    Lots of our things are used. Dishes, clothes, bedding, furniture, books, toys. We bought our bikes new, and we usually buy our laptops new (though my first was refurbished). For most things, my very strong preference is for used, because I simply object to paying for what new things cost! Used books are just as readable, used clothes are just as wearable. Whenever I’m back in the States, I make a stop at Goodwill or St. Vincent de Paul’s, and come away with a few years worth of new clothes. 🙂 I love it.

    Since we’ve lived in semi-furnished apartments for the last 7 years, our furniture, dishes, kitchenwear, linens, towels, etc. have all been used. The last time we moved, we moved to a place without any bookshelves and we finally had shipped over the rest of our books, so there we had to buy bookcases, and for that we ended up going IKEA, because if we were going to get 8 bookcases, we wanted them to be the same.

    Everything new becomes used eventually. I don’t really see much need in starting off new.

  3. strongblonde Says:

    i think that used clothes are totally fine. i’m with you, though, socks and tights seem to get worn out pretty quickly and i ususally end up buying them new. it seems the same wtih shoes, although i don’t necessarily OBJECT to buying used shoes. i’m so hard to fit that i can’t EVER seem to find things in my size, consignment or retail! i’m happy to buy used furniture, books, toys, whatever, but only if i can tell what it is that that it is safety. (even my kids say, “safety is non-negotiable!!” haha).

    i try to make the used thing bigger at our house, too. we try to talk about it and involve the kids whenever possible. for example, i have a friend who is an environmentalist and his company was doing all of the testing on new (and old) toys. some of them were not age appropriate for his kids, so they gave them to us. because we were bringing in toys to our house, the kids and i went though OUR toys and decided which ones they had outgrown, then we put them in a box to give to a (younger) friend’s child. they felt good about it and still bring me things occasionally and say, “i don’t need this anymore, can we give it to baby L?” i like that they’re getting the idea of recycling and donation, i want it to be part of them the way it WASN’T part of me. growing up in a poor town, i think that there is a desire for everyone to have the newest, greatest, most expensive stuff…even if it means that you sacrifice other things (or your credit) to make that happen.

    this year i’m hoping to do some more formal donations around the holidays, too, to get the kids involved.


  4. We buy all our cars used and that’s about it. I love hand me downs from friends, for myself and for my daughter, but we rarely go out of our way to buy used clothing — not because we have anything against it. It’s more a time and energy issue. It’s just easier for me to buy a few more outfits from Old Navy online when needed or stop by the H&M kids section when we’re at the mall. Lately our daughter has been almost exclusively wearing dresses she received as gifts. But now she’s on a shorts kick, which is unfortunate, because it’s a rare day that anyone gives a little girl shorts as a gift. So it looks like I’ll have to pick some up online. Luckily there are a ton of clearance sales on right now.

  5. ana Says:

    I’m with Ernessa. I’m fine with hand me downs if someone hands them to me, but the time & hassle of shopping consignment or scouring Craig’s List is what gets me. I don’t have time/patience for shopping period these days, everything is on line or just quickly picked up. Our baby boy clothes that I were 99% gifted to us for B have now been worn by 5 babies (B, my nephew, L, and now a friends’ baby). They are coming back to me for “just in case” because I CANNOT part with baby stuff.

  6. Elana Kahn Says:

    Hand-me-downs are awesome except for something gross, like underwear. Shoes you aren’t really supposed to hand down because of feet molding the shoe one way. And breast pumps…those you really should get new. But other than that, hand it down!

  7. celiadelia Says:

    I don’t have a problem with used. I love used books, and love the idea that someone else cherished and read it before me. I lot of my books are out of print so I would have to get them used anyhow. Some of the boys stuff is used. Some is new. I have no problem either way, it keeps stuff out of the landfill and lets us spend our money on doctors bills or whatever. I would sure feel like a jackass if I insisted on buying all their stuff new and then we had an emergency and no cash to handle it. We have made a KILLING on Craig’s List with Peter’s Thomas stuff. We got 1400 hundred dollars worth of tables and track and guys for 400 dollars. We have two tables, and they were totally worth it for 400 dollars. But would they be worth it for retail? Probably not.

  8. celiadelia Says:

    Oh yeah, my Mil-Hole tried to give us a bassinette that was maybe 30 years old and I was like NO WAY. That is too old. I kept looking at and thinking mildew/lead paint. ick.

  9. a Says:

    I enjoy hand-me-downs. We buy some used clothing and some new clothing. My husband has the patience to scour craigslist for stuff. I have gone to the secondhand stores, but they’re just so overwhelming. Maybe I’ll make an effort again. I just don’t really get the time to do it.

    I’ll take used toys – in fact, we have plenty of my husband’s old toys. I’m not particular about those things.

    As to books – well most of the ones we have are used. Either they were given to us by someone else, or we’re borrowing them from the library.

    Things I must buy new: Underwear. I got totally grossed out when my girl came home in daycare communal underwear. Shoes – due to the conforming to the feet issue. Houses, now – because I don’t want to live in anyone else’s dirt. That may be a flexible issue, but I don’t know. Cars are the same. Upholstered furniture.

  10. Cat Says:

    My kids have a lot of clothing from the multiples club rummage sale. The girls have more than my son, though, since there are several little girls just a bit older than them but the boys are a lot older. Or they’re not outgrowing the size I’m looking for in time for the sale. They have some toys from the rummage sale, too. They also have piles and piles of toys that were gifted to then brand new. They have some hand-me-downs from their older girl cousins, but there are three girls in that family so by the time the clothes make it through all three they’re pretty tired looking. The seasons haven’t worked out much, either, since they were all giant babies born in the spring and my three were born prematurely at the end of summer.

    I haven’t purchased any used clothing for myself ever. It’s not that I’m opposed to the idea, just that I can’t stand shopping for clothes for myself so that needle in a haystack challenge you enjoy would make me insane.

    We have a couple pieces of furniture that’s been handed down: a dresser, our dining room set, and a small end table. I like the feeling of history in old pieces of furniture. My sister is refinishing two night stands and a small bookcase that she scored at Hippy Christmas and will give them to my kids, so that will be three more previously used items in our house.


  11. I think it’s OK to get used clothes, but I almost always buy new, I just like shopping for new clothes too much I guess and I don’t have the patience to go looking for those rare finds at consignment stores. Our first son did have some hand-me downs from friends and family, but not much. The second one is almost completely dressed in his brother’s hand-me downs, unless they are too worn – the neighbor’s son wore them as well, although I now give my neighbor less because I want it still to be good enough for #2 to wear…
    When #1 was born a friend gave me some stuff her son had outgrown, including a pacifier. Even if it was sterilized and hardly used, I didn’t think it was appropriate to give it to my son, so I threw it away. Our furniture is either new or inherited. We have some pre-owned audio equipment, which I think is fine to use as long as it’s in good working order. Our pack’n’play, crib, baby stroller and car seat all had previous owners.
    Basically I think as long as you can properly wash/clean items and they don’t show too much wear and tear, they’re OK to re-use. If I would like consignment shops, I might dress in second-hand clothing too 🙂


  12. Stuff for the kids — USED! They grow too fast to invest in expensive clothes. And they don’t care about furniture/toys enough to get expensive stuff. All the beds they’ve had through their lives have been hand-me-downs.

    For me, though? The occasional thrift store tog, or a book. But furniture? I need matchy matchy and not scratchy.


  13. I meant “scratched” but that didn’t rhyme.

  14. Rebecca Says:

    Most charity shops don’t hae clothes my size but I have been to a few clothes swaps and got stuff and honeslty it doesn’t bother me. A lot of our furniture is 2nd hand, including our bed which came from my mum’s boss!

  15. Nity Says:

    I’m of the extreme. I have friends pass me down clothes – both for me and my daughter – and I use them up. Why buy something if someone is going to give you something for free? And the same holds for toys, cups, etc. I have bought a handful of things, but for the most part — I’m a frugal one, so if it’s used and free; I’m game.

  16. Mel Says:

    While the kids wore a lot of used clothing when they were little (things in their size don’t wear as well anymore and it’s slim pickings at the consignment shop). The only thing I buy used anymore are books. I love used books because I’m not as worried about bending the pages, etc. But I like all my clothes (and the kids’ clothing) to be new.


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