Jamie Kravitz is a mother, writer, and nonprofiteer from the mountains of Colorado who is idealistic enough to hope to instigate change in her community—and she’s really not all that self-righteous.
As the birth of our first baby approached, my husband and I decided not to put our names on any store’s baby registry. It began as a challenge to ourselves: How far could we get before buying something new? Then, as we began to realize just how far we might go, it became a personal statement: We don’t want anything new, and we ask that you respect our wishes.
We didn’t think this such an odd thing to do, until we began to note other people’s reactions, which ranged from grudgingly accepting to mocking to openly hostile. The most loving response was probably intense curiosity: Why in the world wouldn’t we want to get all the cute items available for a newborn baby?
Among other reasons, we’d gotten married not too long before, and then we had registered. I wasn’t sure my husband would survive another experience like the one required to register at one of the big baby stores. Second, we just weren’t game for another onslaught of cardboard boxes, packing peanuts, and shiny wrapping paper.
Some of you reading this might be thinking, “How ungrateful!” Not true. We were amazed by the generosity of our friends and family—at times, even overwhelmed. However, when we found out we were going to have a baby, we agreed that we wanted do things differently. Our wedding had been a complicated affair, with heavy emotions and expectations from both of our families. This baby was just about us and our values as a new family, and we thought we should begin that family as we meant to continue: on our own terms.
WALKING OUR TALK
In addition, we live on a nature preserve at the heart of a nonprofit center for environmental studies. Our mail is delivered to a place where people, all day, every day, educate other people about the impact of their decisions and choices on the natural world, where they preach the importance of interconnectivity and of “reduce, reuse, recycle.” My husband and I live and breathe environmental stewardship.
So we decided not only to avoid registering, but to not buy anything new at all.
NOTHING NEW AT ALL
At first, I was a little afraid. It wasn’t as if we’d already had a child, and so already had everything. What if everyone else was right, and we did need everything on those registry lists? Were we being bad parents? A people-pleaser to the core, I don’t have much experience in sticking my neck out to make a point—I was a little worried that others might think we were extremists who’d gone off the deep end, and start to worry about our child. But my conviction was strong that we didn’t need all this stuff for our child; maybe, just maybe, I was already thinking about being a role model for this new being.
We set our guidelines. We picked two items that we really wanted (needed) that were fairly expensive—a high chair made not of plastic but of wood, and a really sturdy stroller (we walk everywhere)—and passed the word along to the friends who were throwing our baby shower. Other than that, we told anyone who asked that we didn’t want anything new.