Minimalist Secrets: How to Have Everything

When was the last time you borrowed a cup of sugar?

This used to be quite common place. Ready to make a cake but find out you’re short an ingredient so you dash next door and ask a neighbor.

Maybe pre-packaged cake mixes are the norm now. Maybe we just don’t have time to bake because of over scheduled lives. Maybe we don’t know our neighbors.

Kitchen and dining items are my Kryptonite: I love little appetizer dishes and creme brulee ramekins and big white salad bowls. The truth is I don’t use them often, maybe every couple of months, but I couldn’t part with them. So I have started to make it known that they are available for loan.

If you need a springform pan for a cheesecake let me know. I will gladly loan you mine. Need a few extra wine glasses for a dinner party? Drop me an email.

Start a Sharing Circle

Be the change. Start loaning out what you have kept in your closets, what you can’t bear to part with but don’t use often. It not only makes you feel good but it opens up a network of borrowing. Let your friends hold onto those items you may only need once a year.

There’s nothing new about borrowing and loaning. It’s how we used to do things before there was plentiful credit and cheap goods available. Here are some tips:

  • Find your fashion doppelganger: my sister and I wear the same shoe size and have a fluid back and forth of shoe borrowing. We also loan each other dresses as needed. Don’t buy a new dress for holiday parties – borrow!
  • Keep a list of what you have available for loan and what your friends have. Camping gear, ice skates and anything seasonal. A gentle call or email to friends about your weekend camping plans and tent requirements will usually bring forth loan offers. I’m taking the season off snowshoeing so if anyone wants to borrow mine let me know.
  • Be a fantastic borrower. Return items cleaned and in just as good condition as when you borrowed them. If you break or lose something borrowed always replace, repair or reimburse.

Borrowing and loaning is a great way to try new activities without committing dollars and space to new equipment. It’s also a great way to strengthen your community and circle of friends.

Anyone tried It’s a way to track borrowing and lending. I’m thinking about starting an account.


Don’t forget to leave a comment on this post to enter The Joy of Less Give Away. I will pick a random number and the commentor will receive a copy of Francine Jay’s (aka Miss Minimalist) top ten Amazon book The Joy of Less.

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  • I had to comment on this one – I am forever borrowing things, an egg, baking soda – it is commonplace… Usually I am half way through a recipe and no egg! The most dramatic was when I didn’t read through a cheesecake recipe before starting (expensive ingredients for a friend’s birthday) – then discovered it had to be cooked in a tray of boiling water in the oven and I didn’t have a tray big enough. It was panic stations – and a neighbour helped out as always! As for clothing I have a very dear friend called running_mum (a born minimalist) who coined a phrase ‘timeshare shoes’ – I wrote a post about this early last year on my first blog, which I kept private. Definitely will be taking on-board your suggestions – shame we live so far apart we could make our minimalist wardrobes stretch even further :-)

    • Love the idea of ‘time-share’ shoes.
      I live in a condo building and have tried to get to know our neighbours. It hasn’t been easy. We have a diverse group on our floor and some are rental units that trade hands often. I have friends a few blocks away I could borrow an egg from but the grocery store is even closer.

  • a few years ago i borrowed an egg from a neighbour in my apartment building that i had never met. i need it for some cookies. he was happy to give it and was struck by how old fashioned this was. i left him some cookies in return when i was done. have you checked out

  • It would be nice to reestablish the practice of borrowing cooking items. My neighbor and I usually borrow and loan tools and garden stuff. Recently I borrowed a ladder to put up Christmas lights, and he borrowed some stuff to fix his sprinklers.

  • I also smiled… My Dad spent some of his formative years in the seminary and consequently has a more communal understanding of ownership… He made the comment at a barbeque that it really was nonsensical for everyone in the neighborhood to have the own extension ladder… It was not well received. The real kicker of it was that my dad and uncle owned the hardware store where the all BOUGHT their ladders. His heart wasn’t really in retail!

  • So true! I love borrowing and lending stuff. I share a storage space with some friends (it’s just a garage that we rent) and it’s great…..can pretty much go in there and find anything I might need for an adventure. We’ve even started lending stuff from our garage to other friends…. I was starting to store stuff just because I had the space, but we are now clearing out stuff just by giving it away when we hear someone say they need something we have!

    • That really is the way to operate with stuff that you use occasionally. I know some people have a fear of things being broken or damaged but good friends always seem to smooth that stuff out.
      Hope you are enjoying school and life!!

  • I just returned from an Operation Style clothes trading event. The price of admission was 5 items of clothing you want to pass along. In turn you got 5 tickets to select 5 items that others brought. All items leftover were to be donated to charity. It was such a wonderful event because we all scored awesome items, most left with fewer, but better items, a smile on their face, a good feeling for having donated and some new friends. They plan to do this seasonally and have a special deal on for the next few months. $125 for a 2 hour personal style consultation. They will come by your place and help you shop in your own closet and have ideas of what you should be looking for for your colouring, shape, etc when you go shopping. The girls are fabulous!

    On another note, I recently emailed my neighbour to ask her to coffee and let her know we are always here to do neighbourly stuff. Water their plants, borrow an egg or sugar or check their mail when they go away and she was really happy and offered the same in return. Needless to say, I love your post, R! :)

  • I’m so glad I found you via your featured post with miss minimalist today. And I love this post of yours here. (& others)

    We’ve just moved into a new town on Vanc Is (in Oct) and haven’t met many of our neighbours as yet since its wet and cold and we are all hiding inside. But we started delivering fresh braided bread to 2 different neighbours each Friday. Each week the children take it to a different house randomly, to bless them. I’m hoping this will help break the ‘silence’ and make it easier to meet people once we come out of hibernation in the spring. And I’m sure that if I were to need to borrow an egg they’d for sure be willing 😉

    • Hi Karen. So neat that you are so close to me. I just checked out your blog and will spend more time there in my reading hours. I love that you are living with less and living green with nine children!! I’m a city girl but a cloth diaper fanatic and we had a wonderful home birth. We’ve also gone paperless and just use cloth napkins and cleaning rags. I’d like to do a little more in that area next year. Will see if you have some ideas for me in your blog.

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