Can I borrow a cup of sugar? Or a fondue pot?
March 31, 2010 2:10 PM   Subscribe

Is there anything similar to freecycle or craigslist for items one wants to borrow and return?

I'm moving tomorrow and it boggles my mind how much stuff my roommates and I have collected. A lot of it is items that we only use once every few months - fondue pot, hair curler, handheld drill, pizza cutter, just to name things we've packed today.

I was wondering if there is some sort of online or real world place to borrow these things? It would be wonderful to not have to pay for the expense of buying them, or have them take up space in our house, or have to lug them around when they move.

If such a place or website doesn't exist, why not? That is, what do you think would be the drawbacks? I suppose it requires a certain level of trust that people will return your stuff. Anything else I'm not thinking of?
posted by shaun uh to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
There are tool lending libraries that loan out tools and equipment, but I haven't seen anything of the scope of what you are talking about, I think. Great idea!
posted by Philbo at 2:27 PM on March 31, 2010

I guess the main issue, for me, would be the cleanliness aspect. When you sell/give something away, you assume maybe one or two other people have used it. It's then yours to sanitize however you see fit. However, if you're loaning out things to numerous people, who knows where those things have been! I'm not sure I'd trust anything that I am supposed to use on my body (curling iron, rollers, etc) or on food (fondue pot, pizza cutter, etc) that I have reason to belief has been in dozens of households and used by dozens of people who may not live up to the same standards of cleanliness as me.

Also, there's the issue of how someone should be responsible for making sure the item is not defective -- is the wiring shot from misuse or overuse? What happens then? People tend not to take care of shit unless there are repercussions -- that curling iron will eventually come back glued together with hairspray. That fondue pot is going to be scorched by someone in no time.

I mean, for many things, mostly food related, you can always RENT them. Party rental places rent all kinds of things, like chafing dishes and punch bowls and coffee carafes. But there's a cost involved, and I assume part of that is because the rental company assumes the responsibility of (a)making sure that the items are not defective or in need of repair, and (b)making sure that the items are properly cleaned.
posted by tastybrains at 2:30 PM on March 31, 2010

For me, the challenge with things I use only occasionally is to balance convenience of storage and accessibility with how often I use it. The more important and motivating the activity is, the more likely I am to go to the basement or pull that one bin down off the shelf I have to climb on a stool to get.

For a lot of the kinds of things you describe, like a pizza cutter, the trouble of borrowing one from a lending library for the five minutes spent cutting pizza would be way bigger than the trouble of just cutting it with a knife. On the other hand, a pizza cutter (or a curling iron) hardly take up any space in a drawer, so the cost of giving space to them is relatively low, as is the cost of acquiring them.
posted by not that girl at 2:38 PM on March 31, 2010

Our local freecycle allows "Wanted To Borrow" posts. As far as I know, they turn out fine (a quick survey of the last few months turns up people looking to borrow a manual camera, hedge trimmers, a humidifier, a baby gate, a table saw, a ladder, and even a cat (for mousing). Many freecycle groups don't allow "borrow" posts, though.
posted by vorfeed at 2:49 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]
posted by Wordwoman at 4:02 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is what I use thrift stores for. I have a sad fondness for one-use-only kitchen gadgets that turn out to be just infatuations rather than lasting love affairs, and I've learned to buy these things, when I can find them, at a thrift store, use them at will, and then when they've sat unused on the shelf for a few months, as they invariably end up doing, I donate them to the thrift store. I have, I admit, even re-bought another of the same item later when my curiosity or whatever you would call this insanity rears again (I swear, i've bought three sandwich grills, heh.) I wouldn't buy them if they weren't cheap enough to be able to write it off as almost an entertainment expense, and then when I donate them again they're in sellable condition so I'm doing a little bit of good, too. it doesn't work for everything, but it can cover a lot of this stuff.
posted by lemniskate at 4:40 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

In the UK there are Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS).
posted by hmca at 5:41 PM on March 31, 2010

There is a place local to me that rents out a whole bunch of different kinds of stuff, from weird tools and Ditch Witches to hand trucks to silver tea services. You obviously have to pay to borrow from them, but at least you don't have to find a place to store a Ditch Witch.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:07 PM on March 31, 2010

This is exactly what Neighborgoods does. They are just getting started so they are only in a few areas so far. They allow you to share only among friends, or with everyone who lives nearby. You can also create groups so you can eg share with members of your school/church/whatever. More info is on their blog.
posted by cushie at 9:54 PM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

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