Shanaka Brown’s family is one of many that is looking to save money by repurposing and reusing items from around the house.
Brown, a stay-at-home mom, says she believes the consumer-oriented society has prevailed for too long and has to stop. “I think a lot of people are doing things to change the spending mindset. Even if people just take baby steps in changing the way they do things, added up it all can make a huge difference in the long run.”
Brown says that her family is doing a lot of unique things to save money these days.
“For one, I cloth diaper my children which I figured has saved us a ton of money and cuts back on our curbside trash,” she says. Brown also says she regularly participates in clothing, toy and book swaps with the more than 60 moms in her playgroup, makes her own cleaning concoctions, and religiously uses refillable water bottles. After all, tap water is free.
“I also repurpose leftovers to make new meals and look for other uses for things in the kitchen such reusing empty food storage containers. Even my husband reuses milk and juice jugs in the basement to organize his stuff,” she says.
Kelly Wels, the owner of Kellys Closet, a cloth diapering boutique that offers modern cloth diapering selections like FuzziBunz, bumGenius and Happy Heinys, has seen a huge rise in the number of families using washable and reusable cloth diapers. “I think that families are looking for ways they can save and cloth diapers are a surprisingly easy and sensible solution these days. Families can save thousands of dollars over the course of a few years by cloth diapering their baby,” she says.
Kira Williams, a physician from California, says that even though she and her husband have stable jobs, they are still mindful of their expenditures.
“Cloth diapering has definitely saved us money. Even with the extra money we spend on the water bill, we’re saving more than what we would have spent on disposable diapers. That said, while the cost savings are important, I am even more concerned with minimizing waste and streamlining our lives. I feel that so many of us have become obsessed with spending more and having more and it clearly hasn’t made us better individuals nor a better society. I want to teach my daughter to be happy with less and to treasure the simple things in life,” she says.
Williams says she prefers reusing items and says she was lucky to have inherited many maternity and baby clothes, as well as a lot of baby gear, all which she plans to pass along to others someday. She also makes her own baby food and saves the plastic souvenir cups she gets at NFL games, which have become one of her daughter’s favorite stacking and nesting toys.
Texas stay-at-home mom, Amy Scott, is also one of those moms getting creative by repurposing items that she might have once considered throwing out. For example, Scott says she keeps a small bowl on the dining table where her family puts leftover sauce packets from take-out restaurants. “We’ll never have to buy hot sauce or soy sauce again,” she jokes.
Scott also says she and her husband repurposed old nightstands that were dangerously close to being tossed. When her daughter was born, they realized they needed extra storage space. “One of our old nightstands became a feeding station to store formula, bibs, burp clothes, etc., and the other went by my back door to store mail as to not clutter my kitchen counter,” she says.
Wels adds that, with a little thought and effort, moms can save a lot of money by finding new ways to use old things.
“Think of all the new disposable products on the market that are touted as convenience items like disposable swim diapers, bibs and placemats. I don’t understand how it’s easier to keep buying new things only to end up throwing them away and buying more. If more people took a little extra time to wash items that we normally throw out, we can rack up a lot of savings and be much kinder to Mother Earth,” says Wels. “Perhaps this tumultuous economy is just the excuse families need to spend less, reuse more and overall lessen their waste.”
Brown agrees, “New is not always better or necessary. Reusing not only helps our environment but also my pocketbook because I don’t have to spend money buying things over and over again. Being a family of four on one income was difficult at first, but now I feel that we are making it work.”
By Jenny L.