When you’re expecting, other parents love to give you advice. One thing I heard over and over was how expensive kids were and how much stuff I needed. My inclination at the time was to push back on this notion. I’d find myself thinking of pioneer families who came over on the Oregon Trail — were their kids less well-off because they didn’t have a diaper genie or a Razor scooter? By getting involved in my community, I’ve found ways to stay within a budget and limit my use of disposable goods. Here’s how you can too:

Local Facebook Groups

I honestly don’t know how parents did it before Facebook. I would be lost without my Buy Nothing group, a hyper-local community of neighbors (not just parents, though the majority of stuff coming through is kid-related) where you can ask for and offer what you need. Through this group and others like it (a search for your local Facebook “free” page is also a good start), I get quality clothing, shoes, toys, furniture, nursing items, even food. Plus, I get to know my neighbors and it’s fun to see cherished items move through the community to different kiddos!

Freecycle Organization

Like the Buy Nothing and free pages on Facebook, Freecycle organizes you by location and connects community members to one another for free items. You can post “wants” as well as browse what others have offered. Yes, some of it can be junk, but in a short time you’ll get to know your fellow posters and can easily vet the quality of items. This page is particularly great if you’re a little crafty. A good friend of mine got all her kids’ bedroom furniture off Freecycle, refinished and reupholstered it herself, and now it looks brand new!

Children’s Second-Hand and Consignment Stores

Anyone with kids will tell you how shockingly fast they grow. My son’s shoe size changes every three months, so I’m always looking for deals. Over the past several years, quality children’s consignment shops are popping up in cities big and small in an effort to curb pervasive consumerism by offering gently used clothing and accessories for babies and kids. Most shops also have a small selection of new items that can be especially helpful for last minute gifts. Two of my favorites in the Portland area are Beanstalk and Hoot-n-Annie

Neighborhood Co-ops

While mainly in larger cities like Portland and Eugene, neighborhood co-ops connect families to share common spaces and resources (yes, even during COVID though it’s limited). My local co-op has two rooms dedicated to swapping out all sorts of kid-stuff — from books, to bottles, to clothing (for kids and parents), to costumes, to toys. Their mission, and those like them, is to reduce the environmental impact having kids can have on our planet and on our finances. Most co-ops offer tiered membership and work/trade options. Shout out to my local co-op, the St. Johns Swap and Play, for working hard to keep families connected during these tough times.