Photo of a girl learning to play chords on a guitar

Borrowing is the new buying

05 Mar 23

Ever bought something and then found it years later only to discover that you only used it once or twice? And then you go to use it and it’s not working, dusty, dirty or just surplus to requirements?    

Or maybe, even more frustrating, you’ve bought something and realised pretty much straight away that it just doesn’t suit you or meet your needs?

Well, what if you’d borrowed or rented it instead?

Borrowing or renting can help you save on the upfront costs, maintenance, storage, reduce waste and, of course, help the environment by reducing the need for more resources.

Libraries of things

Libraries can be a great alternative to having to pass on your favorite fiction because you can’t quite cram the latest best-seller onto your overflowing bookcase. 

You browse the library catalogue, pick a selection of books to take home and enjoy, then return them to the library at the end of the loan period for someone else to enjoy rather than them sitting unread on a shelf for years.  

Now imagine you could do the same with a drill or a tile cutter or even a food dehydrator. This is where tool libraries - or ‘libraries of things’ as they’re not just about tools - come in. The Share & Repair Network is a new initiative that encourages communities to share goods instead of buying new.

Many tool libraries have a wide range of items to borrow such as DIY, garden and kitchen equipment like juicers or slow cookers.

Borrowing them is ideal if you’re not going to be using them daily, or just want to try them to see if owning one would be worthwhile before potentially buying one.   

Especially important when we realise that four-fifths of our carbon footprint is directly related to the amount of “stuff” we produce, consume, and often throw away after just one use.   

Many tool libraries have a wide range of items to borrow such as DIY, garden and kitchen equipment. Borrowing them is ideal if you’re not going to be using them daily. #ConsumingResponsibly

What else could you borrow or rent?

Musical instruments.
Music Broth has been running for a few years now, renting out musical instruments and much more (sound equipment etc.) making music playing more affordable, sustainable and fun – their tagline is Scotland’s Loudest Library!

Great if you’re thinking of taking up a new instrument, but not sure if it’s your thing. Or, have a child who is adamant they want to become a saxophone maestro, but you know that they’re likely to change their mind within a month or so.

With Music Broth you can chop and change instruments from their library of over 2,000 items and counting.

It’s not just for individuals either - they can also supply instruments or sound equipment for bands doing gigs, musical workshops for organisations, or public address (PA) systems for community groups and events.

Many parents feel they’d like to use reusable nappies but are a bit hesitant about the up-front costs without knowing how they’ll get on.

Revolve certified Merry-Go-Round in Glasgow has a nappy library and practical advice on hand, giving you the chance to try different options to find out what works for you and your baby.

Photo of two babies in reusable nappies

Baby Slings.
While we’re talking babies – have you ever seen other parents walking round with their babies in slings or carriers and thought it looked convenient, but weren’t sure how you’d get on with one? Glasgow Sling Library has the solution!

Sewing machines.
Unless you’ve been inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee to go and create a whole wardrobe of clothes yourself, you may just want a sewing machine for a short period of time to do some essential repairs on your favourite clothes or other textiles.

In which case, borrowing a sewing machine could be the ideal solution. Stitch the Gap in Glasgow and the Edinburgh Remakery offer sewing machines for just such an occasion or try your local tool library.

Photo of a man using a sewing machine to sew blue fabric

E-bikes have become increasingly popular but are still very expensive. And what if you splash out on one and then find you don’t like it? Or you may be a fair-weather cyclist, so wouldn’t use one for six months of the year (or more if we have a not-so-nice Scottish summer).

Lots of community organisations across Scotland have started to lend out e-bikes for free or minimal costs. Worth checking what’s available in your area.

Outdoor equipment.
The options for borrowing or renting are expanding all the time. Adventure Oban is in the process of setting up an ‘Adventure Library’ where members can borrow wetsuits, paddles and much more.

So, before you buy, think about how often you will use it and whether you need to own it. If the answer to those questions is not a lot and no, then give borrowing or renting a go!