Every house doesn’t need a lawn mower

Every house doesn’t need a lawn mower

Why do we all (most of us) feel the need to create an island out of our home, with everything in it that we could need?

On the street I live in, house after house after house has their own shed, filled with their own bikes (rarely used), their own lawn mower, their own hedge strimmer.

Inside, people keep their little-used pianos, a library’s worth of books, a gym’s worth of equipment, a catering company’s worth of crockery. Even with several years pruning my possessions (with my very own sacotuers) and diligently considering new purchases (or so I thought), my house is still full of stuff. And yes, I have my favourites and most useful things that get used day after day after day. But I have way way way too many ‘occassional’ items.

I sometimes kid myself that I am a lightly treading consumer, that I limit my environmental impact to the slimmest amount. And whilst it’s true that I own things longer than most people perhaps do, and derive glee from reducing my cost per use of items, I’ve just had a bath and could see 9 lotions, potions and bottles just at the end of the bath. Above my head, should I have looked up, as well as in a shelving unit alongside the bath, and in a little hidey hole underneath are dozens more. I know this is a bit of a tangent- I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t own your own shampoo! But how on earth have I, someone who owns one mascara and one eyeshadow pallette, managed to amass so much of this kinda stuff??? What the frick?

Until recently (when I acquired one for free that was taken to the tip and is still in full working order!?), I shared my dad’s garden strimmer. It saved me buying and storing one, and saved one needing to be produced for me. Why is this unusual though? Why do we need to have our own one of everything? We’d all have more money and space if we shared more.

I have a long way to go, but I’m trying to consume less. Not just for the financial benefits, but for my own sanity (I find clutter very stressful) and for the environment. Getting better at sharing isn’t easy when no one needs you to share anything with them. So here’s where I’ve dipped my toe into the communal pool:

  • Owning different board games to the ones owned by friends, and playing with non-board game owning friends
  • Pledging to lend some of my crockery to a friend the next time she throws a family party
  • Lending accessories to my sister on special occassions (honestly, being the big sis, I don’t think I’ll be able to escape this, but I secretly love it!)
  • Lending films and books to people who will enjoy them
  • Taking our own towels when we stay with friends. Some friends did this when they visited us so we wouldn’t have to wash once used towels. I appreciated it so much, I’ve pinched the idea when we visit! 🙂
  • Sharing our suitcases with family when they go on holiday
  • Borrowing my aunt’s smoothie maker on the odd occassions that I feel like making smoothies

Every house doesn’t need one of everything. Virtually every house needs less, not more. This kind of attitude can help save a lot of money, not just by sharing those little used items with others, but by helping you realise you don’t even need to share some stuff because it’s completely unnecessary. Those contraptions that turn courgettes into spaghetti are a fantastic example.

If you’ve got any more ideas, anything you do or are trying, to get away from the ‘my house must have one of these of its very own’ mentality, please do let me know! I sure could use the inspiration…

26 thoughts on “Every house doesn’t need a lawn mower

  1. We recently moved back to the area I grew up in and live near my parents (~10 minutes away). We often swap items that we need for projects (leaf blower, extra cooking items for big meals, camping gear, even the “cup of sugar” trades at times). It is really helpful to have a good relationship and be able to share our items or borrow theirs!

    1. This is so cool and just goes to show it really can work. Everyone’s comments have got me thinking once again how we do this bigger and better, there’s just so much opportunity!

  2. I love this! I’ve thought about the same a lot. What % of the week does a given lawnmower get used in the summertime?

    1 hour is 1.4% of non-night, non-weekend, non-workday time. If perfectly optimized, 72 people could share a single mower if they passed it from house to house.

    Even if you factor in rain days, etc, you’d think it’d be reasonable for maybe 8 houses to share one mower if they could coordinate.

    8 families using a single mower would mean that mower would wear out a *lot* faster, but then everyone would be able to upgrade to the latest and greatest (and more efficient) mower on a faster cycle.

    Imagine always having the best stuff for less money, being more eco-friendly and the only cost is that you have to do a bit of coordination.

    Yet, we hold dearly to our “conveniences”.

    1. Well Chris, I feel like you took what I said and elevated it- stats and everything!! It’s exciting to think of the possibilities. Even one between 3 cuts the numbers by two thirds. Yes, you’ve got greater wear and tear, but even with more frequent replacements, the reduction is significant. And we’re talking about just one piece of garden equipment here.

      You’ve hit the nail on the head with the benefit that most people will want too- the best stuff for less. 🙂

  3. Agree on all of these points; hadn’t even thought about the luggage one though. Lawn-care stuff in general seems like a no-brainer to share. I’m getting a free lawn mower from my brother, but I’d happily share with neighbors if they bought the gas for it. 🙂

    Another big one is a ladder. The number of people with their own 20 foot ladders is ridiculous for how often you’ll actually need one.

    And unless you’re doing a lot of home reno, are a carpenter or other sort of craftsman, chances are that a lot of the tools you need every now and then can be shared. It might be semi-inconvenient at times but that inconvenience is a very small price to pay to avoid the clutter and the cost associated.

    1. Tools are a good one, I hadn’t thought of that. We don’t have a 20 foot ladder but we do have a small one- 7 foot maybe- and even that, we don’t use that often. All it takes is the idea and offering to lend something to someone to hopefully start a chain reaction with this kinda stuff!

  4. I love this idea! I’ve heard of some towns where they have “tool libraries,” so you can rent out things like sewing machines, saws, etc. I thought it was the coolest concept.

    We’ve been guilty of hoarding board games, but we don’t have folks in the neighborhood we can hit up for that stuff. I guess that means we need to get out more!

    1. That’s very cool- I love it!

      Building up people who are interested in playing games has been a slow process. Some of our friends don’t have their own games- but we’re happy that ours get more use- whereas others do, so we do have some opportunity to share. With board games, its not a hobby lots actively do as adults, but drop it into conversation and a surprising number of people are interested! 😀

  5. Yes! We do this mostly with tools! A couple of our friends bought fixer upper houses around the same time as us. Whoever was the first to tackle a project bought the required tool and then loans it out to the other friends as needed.

    We bought the hardwood flooring nail gun, another bought a cheap concrete mixer for fencing, only one person has an air compressor, etc. It is so nice not having to store all the extra tools or pay a hefty rental fee.

    1. Its so good hearing about this working for people! Perfect situation where you all needed the same things but obviously don’t need one each for the rest of time. win win!

  6. So true! We are fortunate to be part of a church and neighborhood where people share many of these things. We even have a Facebook page where people can post about things they want to borrow (or give away). It might be rather inconvenient to share a lawn mower, in my opinion, but we share lots of other tools and equipment. My friends share clothes, kids gear, and kitchen stuff all the time. Tomorrow I am borrowing a large pot for canning, for example.

    1. That’s so cool! Whilst I am cautious of facebook, it is good for things like this. My sister recently put out a request to borrow a baby carrier for the day and had lots of offers, so it saved her buying something she’d only use once or twice! A lawn mower definitely isn’t the most convenient thing to share. For our pretty small lawn (that I don’t even mow weekly, its usually fortnightly!!), it seems OTT to have our own personal machine, moreso than other things because of its size!

  7. I completely agree with you and wish I had a closer relationship with my neighbors so that we could borrow things. Although, my husband hates sharing things with other people. He’s very particular about his stuff, how his stuff is cared for and how delicately it is used. I can see him being furious if a neighbor used one of our tools and broke it. Unfortunately, many people don’t take care of things (because things are so replaceable today) so I can see that being an issue.

    1. I think this would be one of the biggest challenges. All the people I lend to are people I trust to take care of my things. I’ve had experience of lending things to some people who haven’t returned them or its been difficult to get them returned. People also have different rates at which they “need” new things. I know some people who have a new phone every 12 to 18 months, whereas my phone is coming up to 3 years old and I don’t have any desire to really replace it. Perhaps a shared depot of tools (where everyone pays) or more equipment rental would work. Just to have people talking about it is awesome though!

    1. It does seem that by borrowing things, its easier to take advantage of free second hand items as and when they pop up- which is good for your bank balance and for the environment too 🙂

  8. I agree with so much of this. I like the idea that we are shifting to an “access economy” instead of one based on singular ownership. I think that AirBnB, uber, and other apps that allow people to share what they already have are examples to people beginning to move toward this idea in a big way in the US. On a micro-level, our community does this through our local “Buy Nothing” facebook group. When I held a yard sale this summer, I was able to borrow a cash box and and 10×10 pop up tent from a complete stranger that lived just ten minutes away. Neighbors don’t always have exactly what we need, but it’s a great system. Thanks for the great read!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Melanie. I love to hear about these pockets of sharing activity! It’s great to get more examples and you make some great points about more of a sharing based economy. I’ve only used airbnb once so far, but it worked out so perfectly for our trip and was a bargain too! 🙂

  9. “Virtually every house needs less, not more.”

    That right there is the prescription for many of the challenges facing us on this planet today. Reminds me of the importance of cutting out excess stuff first and then seeing what can be shared. Where I live (Ireland) there is quite a bit of neighbourly sharing but not much in the way of community rental initiatives for the likes of lawnmowers and other items that could be effectively shared

    1. I guess its tricky to get a rental based model up and running, because people can buy a lot of stuff relatively cheap, even though it inevitably needs replacing a year or two down the line. Sometimes I thing stuff has become too cheap!

  10. There’s one thing that I truly want to share with my neighbors (my parents aren’t open to the idea) is internet subscription. I don’t like a small housing area having 50’s wifi waves going on. It’s just like a public wifi, and everyone gets to reduce the cost. But maybe it also takes a bit of trust to share the access.

    1. I’m sure there must be some IT experts out there who could find a way to make this work securely- it sounds like a brilliant idea to me!

  11. There is a great site called loneables.com in our area that does just that! It is so great to have an option other than buying!! We borrow from friends and neighbors whenever we can.

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