… and all the other usual suspects: friends, family, loved ones, colleagues, and the long-lost relative of your grocer’s favorite shoe store’s distributer’s son.

On day 2, I recommended getting rid of a lot of your unused stuff, that is, stuff you haven’t used for the past 1 months (books and DVDs were allowed a slightly longer half-life, about a year). The point of that operation was to make it easy to move into smaller as recommended on day 1 and thus remove the main cost of having too much stuff namely, indirect housing costs.

It is possible to go further than that. Whereas the above may be thought of as an inventory reduction, the next step is to take inventory management to the next step, to something akin to the Japanese Just-In-Time except what we’re going to do here is to store some or our things “off-site”.

I suppose you’re familiar with the idea of borrowing things from your neighbors. But have you ever systematically done so? Set up a system so that each person (who is interested) provides a list of what they have but do not use every day. This could be tools, kitchen utensils, DVDs, and even bicycles.

These lists are shared and then people borrow from each other following the standard rules of borrowing:

  1. If you break it, you replace it.
  2. Return it in a better or as good as condition as you got it in.

This works particularly well for DVDs which is probably also the easiest to set up. You very likely have the same taste as your friends and together you will have a better selection than the library and it is very likely that the exchange will be more effective than netflix et al. as well.

If you don’t feel like making lists, you can do “intermediate scale freecycling” locally. Reserve a table at work for things you no longer need and put up a sign that says “free” and put things you are willing to give away there including weird ingredients, paperbacks, etc. Maybe others will get the point and the idea will take off.

The last option is to lend things out on a semi-permanent basis e.g. give things away with the caveat that you can recall them if you ever feel like it.

It goes without saying that the first and the last method requires some upstanding friends. Normally this will develop automatically. People who do not respect the system and other people’s things will eventually get excluded from the system as in “Nah … you can’t borrow it today because (insert poor excuse)”.