A friend was talking about buying a sewing machine. When I suggested she borrow mine, she felt uncomfortable… ‘but what if you need it?’. It got me thinking about how our default has become all about individual ownership, we feel like we need to own everything ourselves. When I did the calculations on my sewing machine, I realised that for 99.82% of its life, it’s not sewing – it’s sitting on a shelf. My sewing machine is supposed to sew, not sit idle in the hall cupboard.
Whether it’s a sewing machine, a power drill, a lawnmower, sports equipment, kid’s toys, appliances… so many of the things we own spend most of their lives waiting to be used.
Sharing things means we can all own less. It saves money, reduces our environmental impact and also creates a sense of connection.
Here are a few of the ways that we can get amongst the sharing economy:
- Social sharing: Sharing with friends, family or neighbours can be a great way to get started. We often borrow and lend tools and gardening equipment within our neighbourhood and I’ll regularly borrow and lend clothes with friends for special events. I find the borrowing and lending normally naturally balance themselves out, but if not I’ll do some baking or share something from the garden as a thank you.
- Libraries: You’ll find a book library in most communities around the country, but there’s also an increasing number of other types of libraries that are starting to become more common. Libraries lending toys, tools and even clothing are a great way to get your hands on the things you need without the high cost or impact.
- Party kits: The Party Kit Network is a really cool initiative where you can borrow reusable tableware and decorations for parties and celebrations. There are also lots of great resources and info available if you’re keen to create your own kit to lend out in your local community.
- Rent or hire: For things like tools, catering equipment, sports gear, trailers, appliances and office furniture – if you only need them as a one-off or for a short amount of time renting or hiring can be a great option too.
I get that sharing doesn’t work for everything and everyone, but maybe there’s one thing that you can try borrowing or lending – you might just be surprised at how good it feels.