Sustainability Tip 62: Don’t Buy, Rent

All of us are guilty of buying things we don’t really need.

Overconsumption is becoming a huge environmental issue, with some reports indicating we consume twice as many material goods today as we did 50 years ago.

The ability to buy things online and have them delivered the next day is also making this problem much, much worse. For example, almost half of all consumers purchased at least one ‘non-essential’ item during the lockdown.

As well as the production footprint of all these items, there’s also the greenhouse gases released during transportation, often by heavy polluting air freight due to next day delivery options. Another shocking detail is that 20% of online returns end up in landfills because the retailer cannot resell them.

Buying all this stuff isn’t just back for the environment, either. Many of us don’t have the money or storage space to buy things we rarely use. Yet, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 80% of the items in our homes are used less than once a month.

For the remaining time, they are stored away, gathering dust. In fact, the average British home has £1,000 worth of unused clutter, and one in three of us have enough to fill a bedroom.

That is until these items are thrown away. 1.6 million tonnes of ‘bulky waste’ (items that are too big to fit in a regular bin) every single year in the UK. At least a third of these are reusable, and over half only require minor repairs.

So how do we fix this issue?

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The easy answer would be to buy less but, of course, that’s not always possible.

There are things that we do need on occasion but not all the time, such as a fancy outfit for an event, a specific drill for a DIY project, or even something large for a new hobby we’re picking up.

This is where renting can be the better option. By buying less and renting more, you contribute to the circular economy, which makes better use of our resources and helps protect the planet that we live on.

It also means you stop supporting a fast-paced shopping system, leading to fewer items being produced and thrown away in the longer term.

Renting locally also helps to support the local community, can save you money, and (if you choose to rent your own items) can even make you some too!

In recent years, the popularity of renting has skyrocketed, particularly in the fashion industry. A whole host of online stores now exist, giving people the chance to rent clothes as a sustainable alternative and making designer labels much more attainable.

For literally anything else you might need, you can use sites like Fat Llama.

Fat Llama lets you borrow almost anything from people nearby for jobs at home, fun experiences, work, or whatever else you need.

Their goal is to get people to access more, letting them pursue their passions and get things done while saving money, buying less, reducing waste, and overall helping the planet.

You simply search for whatever you might need by your location and send a request to the lender for the dates you want the item. Once the owner accepts your request, you can arrange a convenient time to pick it up, and it’s yours!

Letting you rent at the tap of a button, Fat Llama helps us redefine our relationship with stuff and live more sustainably.

You can check out what’s being rented in your local area here or download the Fat Llama app to manage your rentals, purchases, and get instant updates straight from your phone.

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