4 things you didn’t know you could rent (rather than buy!)

Over the last couple of years we’ve been really focussed on buying and keeping less stuff. When we moved house last July, I gave away or sold a bunch of things, and even since we moved I’ve continued to cut back on what’s coming into the house.   

One of the best ways to minimalise our home has been to consider whether we really need to buy things. Instead, we’re looking at new ways to find the stuff we need without having to buy it. It has been completely eye opening! I couldn’t believe the options for borrowing or renting that exist these days. And so I thought I’d share some of my discoveries with you all.

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Before we get there though, why is it worth trying to rent rather than buy? Here are three reasons:

1. Save money

How many times have you bought something only to find you use it once or twice? There have been so many things I’ve bought over the years that ended up languishing in a cupboard only to be thrown or given away after one or two uses. When you rent, you pay significantly less, or even nothing, compared to the full cost of buying the item. So if you use the item only a couple of times, you make a significant cost saving. What’s more, if it turns out you don’t like the item as much as you thought you did, you’ve only paid a fraction of the cost you would have done had you bought it.

2. Save space

In London, space is at a premium. We have always lived in small homes, and even when we moved to a slightly bigger place last year, the space-saving mentality stuck with us. We don’t keep anything we think we might not use again. That means if we can save space by renting something, we will. But even if you have the space, it could be worth rejecting the additional clutter. According to UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families, people living in cluttered homes have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. So all that stuff could literally be causing stress!

3. Save the planet

If we’re all sharing items and only using them when we need them, that means less impact on the environment. Think about books for example, instead of 10 copies of the same book sitting in every home, one copy is shared between all 10 families. If that principle is repeated over and over, it could have a meaningful impact on the resources used to manufacture new products. Likewise, fewer products bought will ultimately result in fewer products to be recycled or left in landfill. Sharing is caring for the planet!

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Of course, I’m not suggesting we throw out all our belongings and just start borrowing all of our neighbour’s stuff. There is a threshold where it is sensible to buy. But I think most of us probably don’t consider borrowing as often as we should. Until recently, I wouldn’t even have considered visiting my local library! The things that are the best contenders for renting are things you won’t use that often and/or things that are very cheap or free to borrow. Bearing those principles in mind, here are some things you can rent:

1. Books (cookbooks, audiobooks, e-books)

Ok so everyone knows you can borrow books! But the real surprise to me was the variety of different books you can borrow. I had no idea that my local library had a huge selection of cookbooks. I now rent a different one every few months to get ideas for new recipes to add to my collection.

Likewise, most libraries now have digital options, including the ability to rent ebooks and audiobooks. I love the fact that I don’t have to physically go to the library to collect or return them (who has time?!), plus it has to be said that a good audiobook will greatly increase the chances of me cleaning!

If you’re looking for a particular book and your local library doesn’t have it, you can ask them to see if another library in your borough has it, or even to consider buying it.

2. Toys

There are so many benefits to toy rotation. Can Do Kiddo has a great article all about it. While you can do this with toys you own, it makes sense to think about renting a selection of toys and then returning them for the next rotation. There are toy libraries all over the UK (google is your friend!) or you could even consider getting together with mum friends to swap toys every now and again.

you might be surprised by the variety on offer at your local library …

3. Nappies

We are absolute converts to using cloth nappies (or diapers if you’re in the US!) There’s another post for another day on all the reasons we love them, but if you’re thinking about taking the plunge, you might well be put off by the high start up cost. Buying a whole cloth nappy stash and all the bits and pieces you need to store and wash them might seem like a big investment, especially if you’re sceptical about whether it will work for you.

Instead, you can rent a set of nappies and accessories from a nappy library. The UK Nappy Network has a map of all the libraries in the UK . Sometimes the nappy kit will even come with a free demonstration from an expert to get you off on the right foot.

If you’re already a cloth lover, a library could still be useful for the newborn phase. Often birth-to-potty nappies are too big for the smallest babies, but buying special newborn nappies can be costly when you’re only using them for a couple of months per babe. Many nappy libraries will have special newborn kits that can get you through the initial months before you’re into your standard nappies.

4. Kitchen equipment

We are so guilty of having bought all the kitchen gadgets and then never using them! Our wedding list had a whole host of little appliances on it, including a pasta machine which we’ve only used a handful of times. You can rent these things from friends as and when you need them, or even use a website like Fat Llama to borrow one locally.

I love the idea that I could borrow an excellent stand mixer if I had an urge to make an excellent meringue, but without having to store it in our tiny kitchen.

And while we’re at it… why not rent your own stuff out? If you’ve also got a pasta machine you never use, you can list it on a website like Fat Llama and make money from it! You get paid for something you weren't using anyway, someone gets a pasta machine, and the planet is happier. Excellent.

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