“For years, my mum’s side of the family have had a “party box” of cutlery. There was enough for 100 people and anytime someone had a party, the box was there….No-one had to buy extra cutlery when entertaining – you just borrowed the party box.”
– Brooke McAlary
Have you considered borrowing stuff instead of buying it? If you have nearby friends and family, talk to them about sharing rarely used items so you can all save money and storage space.
After all, most of us have tools and equipment we could loan out for a few hours, days or even weeks without noticing the loss. Maybe you have camping equipment and your best friend has a chain saw. Could your friend use your camping equipment for her trip next weekend? Can you borrow her chainsaw to cut down the dead tree in your yard?
“Borrowing from neighbors was once a commonplace practice, part of the web of relations we once had with those who lived within close range.”
– Lara Rabinovitch
Many people don’t even know their neighbors’ names, much less feel comfortable asking to borrow something from them. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could walk a few houses down to borrow something?
Some homeowners’ associations and apartment complexes have set up “libraries” to share tools and equipment. Others have Facebook groups that can be used to make sharing arrangements. If your neighborhood doesn’t have a library or Facebook group, consider setting one up yourself.
Or, just get to know your neighbors. Arrange a block party or have your three or four nearest neighbors over for appetizers.
“The sharing economy saved my dinner. In less than four hours I found somebody willing to loan me three most needed chairs! Not a friend or even a friend of a friend. A complete stranger!”
– Maria Paula Oliveira
I’ve never used them, but online services can help you find items to borrow and people to share your stuff with. Neighborgoods is like Craigslist for borrowing. You can list items you’d like to borrow and those you’d like lend.
Nextdoor is a social networking site that restricts communications to those people who live close to one another. It’s more of a community resource than Neighborgoods. In my area, people are seeking pet sitters, roofer recommendations, walking companions and owners of found items. They’re also advertising free yoga classes in the park and giving away furniture.
“When I get hold of a book I particularly admire, I am so enthusiastic that I loan it to someone who never brings it back.”
– Edgar Watson Howe
Maybe you’re not comfortable with unstructured borrowing arrangements. At least use your local library (if you’re lucky enough to still have one).
If you haven’t been in a long time, you might be surprised about all the services libraries offer. I can borrow books, audio-books, e-books, music CDs, DVDs, video games, board games and museum passes from my library. If I want to borrow an e-book or an audiobook, I don’t even have to go into the library. I can do it from my home computer using OverDrive.
Some libraries even lend more expensive items like art prints, telescopes and musical instruments.
“Success is finding satisfaction in giving a little more than you take.”
– Christopher Reeve
Being a minimalist is not an excuse for freeloading.
Don’t always be a borrower. Lend your stuff out, too. If you don’t have things anyone wants to borrow, return the favor in some other way. For instance, mowing your neighbors’ lawn might be “payment” for borrowing their lawn mower.
This doesn’t just apply to person-to-person borrowing situations. Most public libraries are woefully underfunded. If you’re always borrowing stuff from your library, donate some cash or volunteer to shelve books for a couple of hours a week.
Also, always return borrowed items in as good – or better – condition – as you received them.