Often, our first thoughts on the topic of being more environmentally friendly are “How much more is it going to cost?” since energy saving items typically cost more. One way to help save the environment, and save your wallet at the same time, is taking advantage of hand-me-downs.

Since we have a large family (5 children and 2 adults), our family has benefited tremendously from hand-me-downs. My wife recently attended a back to school clothes exchange. Somebody was kind enough to bring in some ladies clothes as well so she was able to build up some of her wardrobe too.

Most of the clothes were in great condition so, in combination with many other times having received bags of clothes and shoes, the kids will be ready with their wardrobe for school. My wife was about an hour too late to get a quality backpack from the clothes exchange…. we’ll have to be resourceful instead with what we have at home or keep an eye out for some good sales.

On the other side of the coin, you can get rid of some unused items by giving them to someone in need of it. We recently gave our baby swing to a friend expecting her first child in the near future. We’ve also thinned out our toy selection for age appropriateness, keeping up with our children’s learning levels. We’re still waiting to find someone to take advantage of the large stash of baby girls clothes. Our friends seem to be having only boys. We find as the children get bigger we have fewer clothes to hand down because of greater wear and tear on the items.

We did a major cleaning out of our storage items recently. We found that there were many items not being used for some time and it was time to get rid of them. We called the city for our yearly allowance of one big pick up. They told us they wouldn’t take any building supply type materials. So our neighbour saw a concrete slab in our pile and took it for the deck he plans on building in the near future. My mother-in-law stopped by and took the scrap pieces of wood for her bonfire. Some neighbours were able to take advantage of strollers, plastic riding cars, and tricycles that our children have now outgrown. I was happy to see them change owners rather than become landfill. I started my cleaning and garbage pile by the side of the road about a week before pickup. This left plenty of time for the items still in good condition to be noticed and snatched up before the day of pickup.

In the end, I have had to invest very little in clothes both for my children and spouse. On behalf of our budget, I thank all those generous people for being so giving over the years. The environment can last a little bit longer without us filling up landfills and purchasing more materials. We’re also happy to have been able to help save other people’s budgets.

When our friends can’t help with our needs, we’ve found popular websites like http://freecycle.org helpful also. What other resources do you use to get freebies?