I’ve never minded loaning things. I actually like it when I’m able to help someone out by letting them use something of mine, which they need but don’t have. On the other hand, I’ve never liked borrowing things. I’ve always hated the feeling of being in debt to someone, even if it’s just for little while. So I’ve often bought tools or other items that I may never need again, rather than just borrowing one from a friend or neighbor who would be happy to loan it to me.

I’m trying to overcome this. I read an article in the most recent edition of Mother Earth News about building alternative economies. There are some good tips in the article. One section is titled “Own less, share more.” That seems to me to be good advice.

One day each year I need a stock trailer to haul hogs to the processor. I fret often over the fact that I do not own a stock trailer, but I don’t want to spend thousands of dollars to buy one.

I have a friend and neighbor who has one. For the last two years I have borrowed it from him to haul our hogs. He has absolutely no objection to my borrowing it. Last year it needed a new tire so I replaced it for him. It seems crazy to think of buying a stock trailer to use one day a year, when my neighbor has one already and is happy to let me use it. Nevertheless, I still feel a desire for my own stock trailer.

For many years I never went to the library. Over the years I’ve bought mountains of books, which I read once and which are now stacked all around our house. It would’ve been much more sensible to borrow books from the library, then return them after reading them so someone else can also read them too. I’m trying to get better about that. In fact, we’ve decided to let our Mother Earth News subscription expire, and check out back issues from the library instead.

I’m convinced that community-based economies make good sense. For items that are necessary but used infrequently it just makes sense for community to only have one, and to let the members of the community use it when they need it. In other words, it makes sense to share.

In order for an economy based on sharing to work, some people will need to overcome their reluctance to loan things, and other people (like me) will need to overcome their reluctance to borrow things.

That’s something I hope to work on this year.