Frugal vegans invest in sharing.

November 23rd, 2010 6:15 pm by Kelly Garbato

Invest in Sharing / People Walking

In this black and white double exposure, we see a photo of some sidewalk graffiti juxtaposed with the image of two people walking together, arm in arm, along a city street. The graffiti is a stencil of the bespectacled, top-hatted Monopoly millionaire – now bearing wings as well – flying out of an opened bird cage; freedom! Underneath this image is the slogan “Invest in Sharing.” A lovely pairing of words, I think. CC image via Flickr user beeteeoh.

I admit it; I so did not come up with the title of this week’s “frugal vegans” post by my lonesome. Prior to finding multiple examples of the totally awesome “Invest in Sharing” stencil (pictured above) on Flickr, this tip was to be called “frugal vegans share with others.” Meh, how boring. I don’t even think such a title is fit to grace a Sesame Street skit.

So what, pray tell, do I mean by “invest in sharing” in the context of frugality? Well, it’s simple, really. If you’re anything like me, you own multiple kitchen appliances, utensils and assorted gadgets that rarely, if ever, see the light of day. Possibly you purchased them new – or even second-hand – and with every intention of getting your money’s worth. Perhaps you do use some of these items as often as is reasonable – but reason only requires occasional or seasonal use. Whatever the case, your kitchen – indeed, your entire house – is most likely packed with consumer goods that are not in use 99% of the time.

Why not save money – and the environment – by splitting the cost and custody of these items with like-minded friends?

By way of illustration, let’s say that both you and your BFF are jonesing for a shiny new ice cream maker. Neither of you can afford to buy a nice electric model on your own. But if you pool your resources, what was an out-of-reach luxury purchase suddenly becomes do-able (albeit possibly still a luxury). At most, you might churn a batch or two of ice cream a month; the rest of the time, the machine would sit on a shelf in your pantry, unused and totally bored. Rotating the ice cream maker between two households on a weekly basis, then, won’t really affect the amount of use and enjoyment that each party can get out of it. Just plan ahead and make a little extra ice cream for your “off” week when it is your turn to use the ice cream maker.

This “shared cost, shared custody” arrangement could work with a number of kitchen items – depending, of course, on personal use and preferences:

– Cup/cake decorating tips and accessories
– Cup/cake display stands
– Bread makers
– Juicers
– Espresso machines
– Margarita machines
– Deep fryers
– Food grinders*
– Waffle makers
– Pressure cookers
– Rice cookers
– Buffet servers
– Fondue pots
Food dehydrators
– Vacuum sealers
– Rotisserie ovens/kits (for Tofurky, duh!)
– Barbecue grills (for vegetables, yo!)
Popcorn machines
– Cotton candy machines (yes, they exist!)
– Extra/fold-able table and chairs (i.e., for entertaining)

…to name but a few.

Of course, sharing need not be confined to the kitchen! Here are some other household items that one could conceivably share with only minor inconvenience:

– Animal traps (humane, of course!)
– Animal cages (e.g., for rescued and yet-to-be-rehabilitated free-living animals)
– “Pet” grooming/nail clipping kits
– Laminators
– Sewing machines
– Ladders
– Plumber’s snakes (bathroom supplies in a food post? ew!)
– Pressure washers
– Chainsaws
– Electric drills
– Garden tillers
– Wet/dry vacs
– Work lights
– Hand trucks
– Lawn mowers
– Snow blowers
– Wood chippers
– Log splitters
– Welding supplies

I’m sure that there are dozens, if not hundreds, of items that I’m overlooking; most likely, I even own a few of them and have plum forgotten, since I use them so infrequently!

Now, before you protest – Cake stands! How dare you!?! I need those for my thrice-daily food porn photo shoots! – let me repeat that this list will differ from person to person. My idea of a rarely used, nearly-dispensable widget is not necessarily your idea of a rarely used, nearly-dispensable widget – and that’s fine. All that matters is that the two (or more!) parties purchasing and sharing these items are in agreement.

Naturally, this tip comes with a laundry list of caveats and obstacles:

  • It’s wisest to share items with people you trust – and to whom you live in close proximity or see on a regular basis.
  • Work out the details – will the sharing be rigidly scheduled or on an as-needed basis? how will purchase and maintenance costs be split? what happens if one party breaks or damages the item? what if one owner moves away? – beforehand, so there aren’t isn’t any confusion or misunderstandings.
  • Don’t spend more on an item than you’re willing to lose – especially if your co-owner is a cherished friend or family member.
  • Don’t share items you plan to use frequently or that you and your co-owner will need/want to use at the same time.
  • Always write up a contract. Even if it’s on the nearest cocktail napkin. (Cynical, who me?)

    Aside from the obvious benefit of saving money, these kinds of arrangements also help to reduce unnecessary consumerism. I mean really, does every family on the block need, say, its own garden tiller? Not to mention, the extra space required to store it? (Answer: NO!) This is the kind of tool you put to use once, maybe twice a year; there’s no reason it can’t do double (like, x20) duty between two+ households, thus removing one or more tillers from the never-ending stream of consumption, disposal and waste.

    Insert: The Story of Stuff video here.

    The Story of Stuff: From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It’ll teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.

    Look at that. Ask and ye shall receive!

    * Speaking of, my parents have the coolest old school – we’re talking turn of the century! – meat grinder. (NO WAIT DON’T STOP READING! NO HIPSTER MEAT LOVE HERE! I AM A VEGANMOFOER, THROUGH AND THROUGH!) We only unpacked that bad boy once every four months or so, to grind up potatoes for potato pancakes. NOM! My stomach is working up a mini-earthquake just thinking about those pancakes. SO. GOOD., y’all!**

    ** If you’re reading, mom, that grinder had better be in your will. MINE, ALL MINE!

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  • 2 Responses to “Frugal vegans invest in sharing.”

    1. Shellyfish Says:

      I need to re-post that video on the blog – I’ve had it on before, it’s so well done. People just don’t get it – all this stuff we have. This was a great post, and I wish I had some community to do some sharing with (we’ve just moved to a new village).
      And grinders rule! Not for meat anymore – ha!

    2. Kelly Garbato Says:

      Me too! We sometimes swap services with our closest neighbor – who is a landscaper and has all sorts of crazy awesome earth-moving equipment – but that’s about it. Guess that’s what happens when you live in the middle of nowhere and the cows outnumber you 10 to 1. Not that I’m complaining, mind you :)

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