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In your efforts to be less wasteful, both for the sake of economics and ecology, there comes a time when renting is probably the right choice. Sure, it feels good to take something home, remove gobs of packaging, and shout It’s mine! for all the world to hear. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. We’ve all done it. But, do we really need that elation with everything?

There are certain items that aren’t necessarily things we need forever, certain items that might just be a better deal to rent rather than buy. Most importantly, it’s also better for the environment to rent instead of buy whenever possible, as re-using items reduces the need for more products to be made. In this spirit, here are ten things you should probably rent instead buy.

1. Power Tools

Unless you are working on a long-term building project or have become a serious DIY type, you likely won’t be using power tools on a regular basis. Items like chainsaws, garden tillers, steam cleaners, and nail guns cost a lot up front and will likely never pay for themselves. Instead of buying, rent one and you won’t be cluttering up your garage with another rusting hunk of machinery.

Home Depot and Lowes both rent power tools, or better yet, check the local Yellow Pages for smaller, independent agencies.

2. Formal Dresses

Just like power tools, ball gowns are not something most of us (or even the female half of us) use on a consistent basis. They are also something people rarely wear more than a couple of times before tossing into the garage sale heap. The great news is that gowns and dresses can be rented and returned, leaving more space in the closet, wasting less resources, and saving you a lot of money.

Start with Rent the Runway and Lending Luxury. Get your accompanying fancy bag from Bag Borrow or Steal.

3. Video Games

After a short while, video games end up decorating a shelf somewhere, collecting dust. How many times can someone rescue the same princess or overcome the same villainous foes? Typically, it’s a one-and-done type of thing. The next version comes along, and it’s time to move on. Just like videos/DVDs of yesteryear, it makes more sense to rent video games.

Pay a monthly rate to GameFly (it works like Netflix) and avoid hoarding a collection of games you never play.

One Green Planet also recommends The Sharing Economy.

4. Textbooks

Not just a horrible waste of natural resources, new textbooks cost a ridiculous amount at possibly one of the most budgeted times in life: when you are a student, sorting out housing for the semester and tuition is due. Then, those new books are destined to be replaced by the fifth edition in a couple of years. Used textbooks were once the best bet, but now an even better option is renting them.

Recommended sites are BookRenter (free shipping!) and Chegg.

5. Garden Space

As vegetable and plant enthusiasts, many of us are interested in having our own garden. Sure, growing stuff at home is a viable option, but sometimes it’d be nice to have a real plot. It isn’t necessary to quit your job and move out to the country. Just rent a garden plot at a community spread.

These may take a little more effort to find, but start at a local farmer’s market or with a Google search.

6. Camping Gear

While many of us love getting back to nature, few of us actually do it with such regularity that we should own the gear. Camping is great fun, but kitting yourself out can cost more than staying at a nature lodge. Granted, the experience is a bit lost at a hotel, so those of us who venture out only every so often should rent camping equipment. There’s no storage or eventual yard sale markdown.

REI and Mountain Side Gear Rental are two spots to start your trip.

Check out this Cruelty-Free Car Camping Guide from One Green Planet.

7. Electronics

Electronics are expensive and are often an environmental disaster. So, when a new iPhone, Android, or Tablet comes out, perhaps it’s better to check out the goods before spending next month’s paycheck. Sometimes, the upgrades are so minimal as to go unnoticed or, in some cases, actually a step back. Before buying the next gadget, make sure it’s something you really want. Rent it first.

Rent-a-Center and RentCell will get you started.

8. Trucks

This seems to go without saying, but trucks are fuel-guzzlers. While the roads and highways are clogged with mud tires and tailgates, very few of us actually haul or pull enough stuff to warrant driving around in a truck for the other 99 percent of our lives. So, avoid the high gasoline bill by driving something fuel-efficient and renting a truck when it’s needed. The savings will be much more.

Home Depot is an option, as are other moving truck rental places, like U-Haul, or car rental companies.

9. Exercise Equipment

Joe Mont, at Main St., cites exercise equipment as being one of the top “5 Items You Pay for, Then Never Use.” This makes sense when we think of all those grandiose New Year’s resolutions and faded decrees of healthier living. Unfortunately, more often than not, those plans disappear quickly, after which well-intentioned purchases turn into expensive guestroom décor. Maybe renting equipment is a better choice.

It is possible to rent exercise equipment: Try Gym Source or Rent A Gym.

Or, consider this: One Green Planet suggests 10 Things You Should Always Buy Used.    

10. Caskets

What may at first seem morbid or disrespectful actually makes great sense: rent caskets. Caskets are ridiculously pricey and soon to be buried. Also, the resources that go into each decorative coffin seem a waste after the wake. Most family members and friends wouldn’t want their survivors to spend obscene amounts of money on such frivolities. Cut the cost, save the resources, and rent a top-notch casket for when people will see it.

Check with any local funeral home. Nearly all offer this service now.

So, that’s that: 10 things worth renting rather than buying. Due credit should be given to the sources that helped compile this list, thanks to LearnVest, Preferred Insurance Services Inc., and Yahoo! Finance.

Image source: Dan Kamminga / Wikimedia Commons


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