13 September, 2013

Always a Borrower or a Lender Be.

It's been a busy week for the Shan.  But now, at last, long awaited IDEA #3: Don't Own Stuff.

I have been fervently youtube-ing clips of people living in smaller homes lately. Apparently there is quite a large movement of people successfully living in spaces that are, in some cases, even less than 100 square feet. Woa!  That is pretty impressive. When it comes to saving money and resources, it seems to me like they just might be on to something.

But my big idea is not about living in a small space.  That is someone else's big idea and I am merely a big fan.  No, my idea would indeed make small space living more possible, but that is just a happy bi-product.  I'm talking about reducing the amount of things that we own.  The more that we own, the more space we need to store all of our little treasures.  And in a lot of cases (to be named in this fascinating installment of 'Ideas-by-Me') the more we own, the more we need  to own.

For example, if you own a car, you most likely also own: floor mats, air fresheners, a jerry can, jumper cables, an emergency kit, a spare tire, a pressure gage, a faux fur steering wheel cover, a witty/cheesy/ironic bumper sticker and countless other items for the repair, maintenance, and personalization of your car.  On the other hand, if you own a bus pass, you own a bus pass.

Additional vehicle-owning hassles include expenses like car payments, insurance, gas, oil changes, car repairs, parking fees and maybe even speeding tickets.  Again, if you own a bus pass, expenses include: buying a bus pass.

And what about other car owner worries like finding a parking spot, having to scrape your windows in the winter, car not starting in the cold, getting into accidents, getting a flat tire, having your car stolen or vandalized, arguing with your GPS, backseat drivers, etc.  Owning a car may mean freedom to come and go as you please, but it also means owning additional stresses.

But cars are just one illustration of the principle.  Ownership of anything is a responsibility.  When we make a purchase, we are making a commitment to store, use, maintain and eventually dispose of that item.  And I'm not just talking about vehicles.  I'm talking about camping gear, exercise equipment, musical instruments, power tools, and even books.

The beauty part is that there already exists a completely accessible and affordable solution for all of our ownership woes.  Here is an extensive, though highly incomplete, list of ways to get out of owning stuff:

1. Borrow books from the library (that include epubs and printed books) rather than buying a book you will likely only read once.

2. Rent you child's musical instrument from a music store rather than buying it.  They will likely change their mind 7 times as to what instrument they want to play anyway.  It is so much easier to rent those drums for a week and then trade them in for a bass guitar rather than have your basement become a musical graveyard of forgotten dreams.

3. Join a gym or exercise class/club rather than building a home gym.  If you have a home gym you need to repair, maintain, upgrade and find space for all that equipment.  If you visit a gym, they will always have the newest, functioning equipment and as a bonus, you can reduce your water bill by showering there.

4. Doing a home renovation?  You don't need to go out and buy every tool for the job that you may only use once or twice a year.  If you buy tools, then you'll need a tool shed... and then you'll have to buy the tools to build that too.  Renting tools has the added bonus of getting some advice/instruction from the rental staff.

5. Going on a once-a-year (or once in a lifetime) camping expedition?  Borrow gear from your adventure buddy, or visit Mountain Equipment Co-op and rent their gear.  Again, this rental comes with bonus advice and opinions of the service staff.

I do believe this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I invite you to borrow these ideas (free of charge) and see what other ways you can reduce the requirements of space, expense, and stress of ownership.  So lighten up, go hop on your bike-sharing wheels, head over to a public park, and rent a paddle boat.

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