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Sustainable Money Hack: 15 Things You Should Borrow Instead of Buy 

Commons Team
August 18, 2023
shovel, rake, wheelbarrow, and other garden tools leaning up against a cement wall

Borrowing minimizes waste, extends product lifecycles, and lessens your carbon footprint. When you borrow instead of buy, you save money and support a circular economy. Plus, borrowing is more sustainable because it reduces demand for new production, conserving materials and energy. 

If you’re looking to buy less, reduce your overconsumption, live more minimally, save money, or live more sustainably, borrowing is a great way to do it. These items are great contenders to borrow from your friends or neighbors. 

Pro tip: If you find it hard to chat with your neighbors, try joining your local Buy Nothing Group and post a request to borrow! It’s a great way to build community and tap into our shared resources. 

Event-based items

  • Formal Dinnerware: If you host formal dinners infrequently, borrowing or renting elegant dinnerware and utensils can be more practical than purchasing them.
  • DIY Party Equipment: Items like projectors, screens, and speakers for DIY home movie nights or presentations are often used only occasionally.
  • Party Supplies: Items like tables, chairs, decorations, and other party supplies are typically used infrequently. Borrowing them from friends, family, or community centers can be a practical choice.
  • Formal Attire: Clothing for special occasions, like formal dresses or suits, can often be borrowed for events like weddings, galas, or parties.

Items that you won’t use frequently

  • Board games, video games, and movies: Rather than buying video games or movies that you may only play or watch once, consider borrowing them from friends, family or renting from online platforms.
  • Kitchen Appliances: Specialty kitchen appliances like bread makers, ice cream makers, or pasta machines can take up space and might be used infrequently.
  • Camping Equipment: Camping gear such as tents, sleeping bags, and camp stoves can be expensive and might not be used frequently enough to justify purchasing.
  • Travel Gear: Items like suitcases, camping gear, or travel accessories are frequently used during trips but may spend most of their time in storage. Borrowing can be a better option for occasional travelers.
  • Sporting Equipment: Sports gear, such as bicycles, skis, or kayaks, can be expensive and require storage space. Borrowing allows you to enjoy these activities without the long-term commitment.
  • Specialized Tools: Tools or equipment that you might need for a one-time or occasional project, such as power tools, woodworking tools, or gardening equipment, can be borrowed instead of buying them outright.

Items that you’ll only use a few times

  • Books: If you're an occasional reader or need a book for a short-term reference, borrowing books from libraries can save money and prevent clutter.
  • Baby or toddler gear: Items like strollers, cribs, and baby carriers are often needed only for a short period as children quickly outgrow them. Borrowing can save money and storage space.

Hobby items you want to try before you buy 

  • Musical Instruments: Learning to play a musical instrument can be a great experience, but instruments can be costly. Borrowing initially or renting can help you explore your interest without a significant financial commitment.
  • Costly Electronics: High-end electronics like cameras, drones, or virtual reality headsets are expensive and quickly evolve. Borrowing allows you to try them out without committing to ownership.
  • Art Supplies: If you're trying out a new art form or medium, borrowing art supplies from a friend or a local art center can help you experiment without investing upfront.

Remember that the decision to borrow or buy depends on your individual circumstances, usage frequency, and the availability of borrowing options in your community. It's always a good idea to consider the long-term cost and utility before making a decision.

Commons Team
August 18, 2023

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