8 Ways To Borrow Or Rent Rather Than Buy Using The Sharing Economy

Reusable Nation - Little Free Library in an old telephone box

Whatever you need, someone else has. There is enough in this world for everyone already and there is no need to buy things like gardening tools, moving boxes, formal dresses and a book to read on the beach that you are only going to use once or twice.

Anything you need is probably hiding away in someone else’s closet or garage, unused and unwanted by them, or available for hire somehow. How do we find and access these items and go about renting or borrowing things instead of buying?


1. Libraries and Little Free Libraries

One that we have all done at some point in our lives. But, when last did you visit your local library? Rather than buying a new book that is only going to be read once and then sit on a shelf gathering dust, head to the library and borrow one.

Or seek out a Little Free Library in your neighbourhood. These are tiny versions of libraries that people build and place a few books in. You can then bring a book or books you no longer want and that you think others may want to read and swap them for one or some of the ones in the little library.

You can easily make your own if there are none in your area. Get creative with the enclosure - one of my favourites is one in an old telephone box I found in Devon, England.

There is a world map of Little Free Libraries that you can use to find one near you or add your one to.


2. Toy Libraries and Kids Equipment Rental

Do your kids only play with a toy once and then they’re bored of it? It may be time to go to the toy library.

Toy libraries are libraries that lend out toys instead of books. No more rooms cluttered with toys that are no longer played with but under no circumstances can be given away. No more paying for toys that end up unloved and in landfill.

They are a brilliant way for children to get new, exciting toys each week and for them to learn to not hold on to and become attached to things.

You can use Toy Libraries Australia’s map of toy libraries in Australia to find one near you.

Kids come with a lot of stuff - not only toys! And, this stuff is expensive! This equipment is also often not used to the end of its lifespan as children grow quickly and it soon becomes unneeded.

This is why it is better to rent it than buy it. You can rent kids equipment like prams, cots, bassinets & car seats from companies like Kindershare.


3. Tool Libraries

Tools can be very expensive, especially when you only need it once to cut down that one tree. Tool libraries are another excellent form of library, where you can borrow and return tools.

They are the perfect solution for once-off DIY projects, occasional home improvement, and infrequent garden jobs.

For instance, the Brunswick Tool Library shares out items like hand tools, power tools, garden tools and ladders.


4. Family and Friends

One lending resource we often forget is family and friends! Simply ask people in your circle who might own an item you need if they have one you can borrow.

Send a group message or call mom and dad and ask them if they know of anyone who has one.

Just don’t be one of those friends or family members who never give anything back if you want to be able to borrow more stuff in the future!


5. Neighbours and Good Karma Networks

If your friends and family don’t have what you need, you can expand your search to include the whole neighbourhood!

Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and to get to know your neighbours - they’re not only useful for watering your plants when you’re away, but they may have stuff you need that they can lend you. Not to mention the fact that they could also be great company and you could end up being lifelong friends.

Another way of borrowing from and getting to know your community is to join a local Good Karma Network or something similar like Buy Nothing groups. Good Karma Networks are set up - generally as Facebook Groups - to connect neighbours so they can help each other with challenges they face and share resources.

The goals of Good Karma Networks include: “to inspire people to work together to find solutions to the problems we are facing within our communities, and to take action to actually create positive change” and “to collectively find ways that we can reduce the resources that we require to run our lives, and reduce our  negative impact on the planet”.

Go here to see if there is one in your neighbourhood. If there isn’t, you can always start one!


6. Share Bikes and Cars

Don’t use a bike or car enough to make it worthwhile owning one? Use share bikes and cars instead!

Unfortunately O-bikes didn’t survive Melbourne (apparently it’s too tempting to throw them into the Yarra River), but the city still has its Melbourne Bike Share network, with these bikes safely locked in bike racks.

You simply unlock the bike, go for a ride and then return your bike to any station. There is a map showing where the stations are and how many bikes are available here.

There are also a number of share car options in the city, including Car Next Door, Go Get, GreenShareCar, Flexicar, and RACV Car Share. After registering with a car share company, you can book a car and pay for the amount of time you intend to use it for. You then pick up the car at its car share bay and return it to when done.

Found out if you have something similar in your city!


7. Rental Dresses

Need a new formal dress for a fancy occasion? Is it likely that you’ll never wear the dress again? Why not rent it instead of buying one that will just end up taking up space in your closet.

It works much the same as anything borrowed - you pick a dress, it’s delivered, you wear it, and you return it. You can also rent accessories. They’re generally posted to you and you post them back. There are also some physical stores where you can do this.

Who What Wear lists the best Australian websites to rent dresses and outfits from for special occasions as: Glam Corner, Your Closet, Her Wardrobe, Something Borrowed, and The Volte.

Another way to save yourself from buying a single-use outfit is to shop friends and families’ closets. Their wardrobe may have something perfect for you and the occasion.


8. Charity Shops

Another option is to buy the item from a charity shop and then return it once you're done with it. Not exactly not buying, but I like to think of this as borrowing from the charity shop, as you’re going to return it and I think of the cost of the item as a simple donation to the charity.

Going to get it with the idea that you are going to return it means it is more likely you will take it back to the charity shop when you no longer need it and it won’t end up sitting in your wardrobe or garage unused for years.


Try these eight strategies before going straight to buying - it will not only save you money, but will also save some of the Earth’s resources.

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