Long gone are the days of the thousand-dollar stroller - that was obvious when the recession hit. But middle-to-upper class parents are taking frugality a step further, according to the New York Times: They're foregoing all costly items for their children in favor of buying used, or taking hand-me-downs. It's the kind of trend that makes retailers quake with fear.
The recession, it seems, has catalyzed a moment of reflection among the formerly free-spending new-parent set: used is good; free is best. New purchases have become more considered, less spontaneous.
Experts say the children’s market is just playing catch-up to a radical consumer shift taking place across all luxury sectors. But some say the new attitude reflects a broader change in perspective when it comes to conspicuous consumption for young children. No longer is it necessary to buy a thousand-dollar changing table in order to prove your parental savvy and breadth of love; if anything, the opposite is true.
The article stops short of identifying the parents as freegans, but their philosophies are the same: Consume less to reduce your footprint, since the world has enough stuff already. Babies can't tell if a crib cost hundreds of dollars, or if it was donated by a friend. “For us it’s less the economy and more about lessening our environmental impact,” said one parent, who took hand-me-downs from relatives and parenting groups.
So where are some easy places for would-be freegan parents to find free and cheap stuff for their newborns?
- Family and friends. Hand-me-downs are back in style - especially if they come from parents who indulged their shopping whims during better times. Ask family and friends if they have any old baby clothes, furniture or toys that they would be willing to lend or donate. Then, be sure to return the favor and pass your gear along to other parents once your child has outgrown it.
- Parenting groups. One set of parents quoted in the story found items through a twins support group, but any network of generous parents with stuff to spare will do.
- Online free forums. Craigslist and Yahoo freecycle groups are a steady source of free and cheap stuff for kids of all ages. Just be sure to inspect all items for safety hazards.