The environmental and financial benefits of sharing and hand-me-downs are widely recognised. Most of us know that when we borrow or favour pre-loved we minimise waste and reduce resource use. But a major hurdle in the use of second-hand items is being able to find what we need, when we need it.
I have found one of the most effective ways to find what you want without resorting to buying new is to let your friends and family know what you are searching for. It’s highly likely that someone will have what you need sitting unused and unloved in their garage or a spare room, or in our case, a paddock.
We recently welcomed Spike the loan pony to our little farm. Little Eco has long wanted a pony, but we are not willing to buy her one until we are certain that she’ll give it the care and attention required. I started telling friends that we were searching for a pony to loan. Eventually a friend noticed a post on facebook about a pony looking for a temporary home.
Spikes owners don’t have the space or time for him at the moment, but love him so much that they can’t bear to sell him. He’s come to live with us for a year or so. It’s a win-win situation that would not have happened had I not told friends of our search.
Another friend has challenged herself to furnish her home using only pre-loved content. She created a list of things she is seeking and circulated it to friends, family and colleagues. The response has been positive. “People have given me things like their grandma's pots and pans that they didn't use, but didn't want to throw out. As an added bonus, I’m forging new friendships with people who are dropping stuff off for me and sharing stories”.
For me, what I love most about sharing and passing on is that it it’s a nice way to support each other and encourage a sense of community and connection. I love that these exchanges are happening without the transfer of money. Unused things are moving onto a new home where they can be cherished and enjoyed.
Originally published in my Newcastle Herald column 'Less is More' 28th September 2013.