Buying pre-loved: why, what and where?

I’d like to talk about buying pre-loved, secondhand, hand-me-downs, used – whatever you call it. Giving something used a new home is growing in popularity and it’s something that I am really passionate about. I know when I was a kid, wearing hand-me-downs was just not cool and I moaned every time Mum made me wear an old coat given to us by the neighbours. Or *shock horror* wearing something your Mum wore…

Who wore it best? Carys or Mummy?

But now, there is an environmental story to buying secondhand. It’s not a sign that you can’t afford new things, it’s a sign that you want to save items from landfill and reduce your impact on the natural world. This year, I’ve seen some big brands launch ads about smartening up old clothes and adding messages to their labels to promote handing clothes on. It’s not just a way to save a few pennies, it’s about leaving behind “throw-away” culture and getting the full value from everything we make

Most of the things my kids wear and a lot of their toys / kit are secondhand. I buy a lot of my own clothes secondhand as well, and always check to see if we can find furniture and household items preloved before buying new. There are certain things I prefer to buy new, but tend to try and find something good quality that will last and could be handed down afterwards. As a teenager, I practically lived in Primark but buying almost-disposable clothes seems such a false economy.

There are lots of ways to find items pre-loved – these are my go-to places:

  • Friends and family – swapping clothes between friends and family is the easiest route. It’s free, you tend to know what you’re getting and you’re very unlikely to get ripped off. Although, make sure you set the expectations of whether items should be returned, passed on or kept when you’re done with them to avoid any awkward conversations.
  • Charity shops – wow, there are some bargains to be had here. The charity shop in our village has some wonderful kids clothes. You can’t predict what styles or sizes will be there, so it’s a good idea to stock up on future sizes if you spot something good and be open-minded with styles. It’s also good to know that your money is going to good causes.
  • Small businesses – there are some great little enterprises out there, facilitating the rehoming of gorgeous items. Typically, they will be more honest quality-wise and be efficient with packaging and posting. Two I really love are @dottyole_preloved, run by two lovely mummas through Instagram for kid’s clothes, and The Octopus Club, which is a marketplace for all sorts of children’s items, created by a mum this year.
  • Facebook and eBay – if you’re looking for big bundles of clothing when kids size up, this is the way to go. You can get great value looking at these bigger platforms and you are dealing with sellers direct. But you do have to be careful that the quality is as described as your purchases aren’t protected.

These are some of the things we’ve bought pre-loved:

Pic 1: Little Tikes car from Facebook Marketplace (battered by 2 years with us!)
Pic 2: Little White Company hoody from @dottyole_preloved, Next trousers borrowed from a friend, Melissa & Doug walker from Facebook Marketplace (an absolute steal at £12)
Pic 3: Handmade cardigan in a bundle from Facebook Marketplace, trousers in a bundle from eBay
Pic 4: Mothercare rainsuit from eBay

Buying secondhand does not have to be all or nothing. Maybe you designate certain items to stop buying new (kid’s nursery / play clothes is a great place to start!) or you set a month where you pledge to not buy anything new. This is a good way to get out of consumerist habits, helps you to question purchases more and really value the items you own.

This is hands down the easiest change we’ve made in an effort to become more environmentally conscious and one that I hope continues to grow in popularity. If you have any tips for buying pre-loved, please head over to @themanyfacesofmum and share them there!

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