Let’s face it – we live in a consumerist culture that begs and pleads for us to buy, buy, buy for every occasion, lifestyle change, event, person and moment in our lives. Yes, every family needs a certain amount of stuff, but too much stuff is taxing on the planet (not to mention the psyche) and just tends to pile up and make our lives more cluttered and complicated. That’s why we hunted down 6 smart solutions for the best multi-use, convertible and transforming stuff that’s guaranteed to last longer, save space and make your life as a mom easier. Here are six ways to help you do more with less.
Beg, Borrow and Steal
When you’re pregnant, as much as you can try to use rubber bands, belly bands, and extra long tops in an attempt to make your regular clothes last months into your pregnancy, there’s always a tipping point when you have to break down and spring for everyday maternity wear that you’ll only wear for a few months. If you have similarly-sized friends, consider passing maternity wear around your group. Everyone will appreciate having a wardrobe to borrow and you won’t have to find a place to store maternity clothes when you’re not pregnant.
If you need an outfit for a special occasion, splurging on a bump-accommodating dress that you’ll only wear a few times can seem even more ridiculous. That’s where Rent Maternity Wear comes in. When you need to dress to the nines for a holiday party, work event, wedding or another less than casual event, you can find a gorgeous option, rent it for a week or two, and then send it back to be worn by another preggers fashionista. It’s more affordable (dresses start at $35 per week) and much less wasteful than the buy-and-wear-once alternative.
Share, Share and Share Alike
Kids grow and outgrow clothing so fast! Saving and sharing hand-me-downs between siblings, cousins and friends is a great way to cut down on the amount of clothing you buy, but what if you don’t have anyone to swap clothing with? Try online clothing swaps like ThreadUp Kids Clothing Exchange. The online swap program allows users to link up with other parents to share duds that are in good condition. You can search by age, gender, season and brand to find a box of clothing suitable for your tot. Then, organize your kid’s outgrown clothes and list your package on the site so someone else can take it off your hands.
Don’t Be Afraid to DIY
When you go to the drugstore’s cleaning aisle you’ll find oodles and oodles of cleaning products. One for scrubbing toilets, one for kitchen counters, another to make stainless steel shine, another for glass, one for the floors and on and on. You could go crazy buying all of these different solutions — many of which contain harsh toxic ingredients that are bad for you and your family’s health — or you could make your own kid-safe green cleaners with a few simple ingredients that you may already have in your home. With a baking soda, table salt, olive oil, lemons, white distilled vinegar, natural soap, essential oils, H2O and a few old spray bottles, try our eco-friendly formulas for everything from an all-purpose disinfectant to a window wash.
Look for Multi-Purpose, Multi-Use Garments
Whoever made the “rule” that you can’t be seen in the same dress twice was not a green-minded individual. You surely can’t buy a new dress for every single occasion if you’re keeping the earth in mind, but that doesn’t mean you have to look the same every time you put it on. Good eco fashion is all about how creatively you can style each outfit, making the same pieces look new and fresh each time you wear them. And, buying smart pieces that have a convertible, transforming nature built into their design helps too. Take Hayley Starr’s Fancy dress for example. It can be worn 110 different ways from a one shoulder frock to a halter dress. Plus, while the stretchy modal fabric will gracefully accommodate a pregnant belly, this dress can be worn just as beautifully postpartum.
Look for Multi-Purpose, Multi-Use Toys
What’s better than one new toy? How about one new toy that can be played with six ways? Keep kids entertained and challenged at playtime with multifunctional toys that are bursting with play value, rather than one-trick-ponies that kids will quickly grow tired of and toss aside. We love the 6-in-1 Solar ‘Transformer’ Robot Kit. This multifaceted toy comes with 25 parts that can be used to build six different robotic toys including a car, a boat and a windmill. Plus, this toy introduces kids to alternative energy since it’s solar powered.
Look for Multi-Purpose, Multi-Use Furniture
When you have your first baby, the list of things you need can sometimes seem never-ending and your previously uncluttered home can quickly become jam-packed with baby stuff. Luckily, brilliant sustainable designers are taking on the challenge of building multi-use furniture that’s not only easier on the planet, but also solves for space and lifestyle issues. The Koo, a bassinet meets rocking chair combo, provides a place for your newborn to sleep and when it’s time for a feeding you can quickly turn it into a spot where you can sit and nurse. Then, when your baby is too old to sleep in the bassinet, which she’ll do in just a few months, at least you’ll still have a rocking chair to use.
Take the multi-purpose, multi-use furniture one step further by buying quality pieces that can live on through many years of childhood. The convertible Studio Crib from Nurseryworks begins as a modern crib and changing table all rolled into one. Later when your child is ready to graduate to a big kid bed, you can convert the crib into a toddler daybed with a built-in desk rather than a changing table. What’s more, Nurseryworks creates their furniture from renewable materials and uses low-VOC finishes, lacquers and glues.