8 Things You Can Share, Rent or Borrow

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It’s not breaking news that renting or borrowing items you only need occasionally can save you money: books from your local library, DVDs from Netflix or a pick-up truck from a car rental company.

But sharing and checking out these items you don’t need to own permanently is also good for the planet. Nowadays, pooling resources goes way beyond the local library and video rental companies. From bikes and tools to designer dresses and gardens, check out these eight items you can share, rent or borrow instead of purchase and own.

1.  Cars

car sharing, car share

Photo: Zipcar

Maybe you’re an urbanite who doesn’t drive a car every day, but could use a vehicle for trips to the grocery store or weekend excursions out of town. Or perhaps you’re a two-car family that wants to downsize to one vehicle; your household only requires a second car occasionally.

Enter car sharing, a service that costs less than owning a car, while at the same time, takes cars off the road and reduces congestion and air pollution.

Unlike traditional car rental companies, a car-sharing service allows members to borrow cars for short periods of time, often by the hour. Cars in a car-share program are located throughout the community, rather than at one central car rental location, and members can check out and return vehicles at unattended stations. You pay by the hour or mile, and fuel and insurance is included in the fees.

To learn more about car sharing, check out Zipcar, which operates in 35 states across the country or the nonprofit City CarShare, which serves the San Francisco Bay Area only.

RelayRides and Getaround offer a different type of car sharing: These companies help car owners make some extra cash by renting out their cars when they’re not using them to individuals who need a car for a few hours.

READ: Couples Travel the World Without Planes, Cars

2.  Bikes

Photo: Flickr/*Sally M*

Need to hop on a bike for the last mile of your commute from the train station to your office, but don’t want to deal with the hassles of bike ownership: maintenance, storage and the potential for theft?

Like car sharing, bike-sharing programs allow members to check out bikes at unattended stations for short-distance trips and then return them to a different station when they reach their destination.

Already popular in Europe, Asia and Canada, bike sharing helps get commuters out of their cars, easing traffic congestion and cutting down on air pollution.

Bike-share systems are popping up around the U.S. – in Boston, Denver and the Washington D.C. area – and new programs will roll out in San Francisco and New York next year.

READ: How to Start a Bike Program in Your City

3.  Rides

Carpooling has long been touted as a way to reduce air pollution, save money and relieve stress. Now coordinating your carpool – whether it’s your daily commute or a cross-country road trip – is even easier in the Internet age.

Click into the “rideshare” section on Craiglist, or post and search listings on eRideShare.com or Carpoolworld.com.

You can also sign up for GoLoco which will alert you when your friends and interest groups make travel plans, in case you want to join them and share a ride.

Zimride takes a different approach to carpooling, applying a special algorithm to social networks like Facebook to match rides for its members – college students or employees at participating companies.

READ: A Greenie’s Guide to the Open Road

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