Guide to non-traditional gifts: Lending libraries aren’t just books anymore

Shared or rented items such as bikes, tool or farms are practical and appreciated

 By Liza Koman, Campaign for the Right to Repair, Associate

Many of our loved ones already have too much stuff and it’s hard to imagine what they could be lacking. That’s why giving the practical gift of what’s called “shared services” is a great solution. Many of these services offer short-term rentals of large items such as cars or vacation homes that are financially out of reach for many of us. When you give someone access to one of these services, your recipient gets to choose how and when to use their gift while still making their life easier. You can purchase gift cards or memberships to many services, including: 

  • AirBnB. If you want to give someone their dream getaway, but aren’t sure when or where the person wants to go, this is the perfect gift

  • Bike shares — If your friends or family live in a city such as WashingtonNew YorkChicagoBoston or plenty of others, but don’t have anywhere to store their bike, a bike sharing service is a great option. They can pick one up at various locations around town with an unlock code and drop them off at any station when they’re done. 

  • Zipcar — This company uses the same concept as a bike share, but with cars. Pick up and drop off in various locations, and it’s much easier, faster, and cheaper than renting a car. 

  • tool lending library — If someone wants to do home projects, tools can be a limiting factor. They’re expensive and it’s unreasonable to buy specific new tools for each new project, when the tool may be used only once or twice. A tool lending library lets members borrow whatever they need directly from the community. 

  • Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) memberships —  the premise of a CSA is that members commit to supporting a local farm throughout the season and the farm provides access to fresh goods to its members on a regular basis. This is a great way to support local farmers and get fresh, locally grown produce. Find your local CSA here


Return to Buy Less, Give More main page for other gift ideas

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