Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Being Green v. Saving Green (A Christmas Story)

I struggle a bit as a first time mom with the idea of used baby gear. Most of the used items I have purchased I have loved, and what has held me back from buying almost everything used is safety combined with the wear and tear I see on items at consignment sales. But I was confident that I could buy Jack's Christmas presents (or at least some of them) used this year.

One thing I knew I wanted for him, but was willing to be flexible about, was a Little People set. I wanted to farm, but would have gone with a good quality used set with another theme if it had the pieces and wasn't too banged up. The price had to be right, too, of course.

I was hoping to save both money and a tiny little bit of space in a landfill, eventually.

However, I was unable to find such a set. In fact, I found tons of Little People sets at consignment shops and sales but not one came with the pieces. What is the point of a Little People play set with no Little People? I had to assume the sellers had bagged them and tagged them separately, hoping to make an extra dollar or two on the sale. But it appears that buyers are happily buying the pieces but not the sets.

So when the Little People farm set with extra bonus pieces went on sale for $29 at Target, I snagged it. The best deal I had seen used was half that for just the farm.

His other major gift is toy pots and pans and dishes and felt food I made, along with some wooden food toys we bought and a set of mama-made spices, salt and pepper, and a bottle of hot sauce (he loves hot sauce). I did look for used kitchen toys but the only ones I found were the cheap plastic kind that come with a bunch of cheaply made cardboard food boxes, usually in a really poorly made plastic shopping cart with wheels that don't work… Although I did find a few pieces that go with a kitchen that makes sounds when you put the pans on the stove or something along those lines (the seller wrote this on the tag). I was not thrilled with these options. I had been sure there would be hordes of eco-minded parents out there selling their much loved wooden play food that had made it through 4 kids and still looked just fine. But I was evidently setting myself up for disappointment.

So once again, I kept my eyes open for a good deal and even up saving a lot of green by buying new. The Green Toys cookware and dish set went down to about $20 on Amazon, where I had a gift card on file, and I snagged it for him. I know he will get lots of use out of it, and I imagine his siblings will as well (when he has them…eventually). The best part? Even though it's new, it's kind of green because it's made from recycled milk jugs. It's also gender-neutral – something of an issue when you are looking for a toy for your son that is sold in the aisle next to the barbies.

I've also been looking for a good set of wooden blocks for Jack and have failed to find them used for more than about $5 less than the price for a new set, and usually the used set is somewhat dirty and missing pieces. To me, it's worth $5 to have a clean, new set, especially since we are talking about wood, not plastic.

Have you been able to score some good deals on used toys? Or do you prefer to get a great deal on something new?

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