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Let's Bring Back Sharing With Our Neighbors

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

Maybe you live in a community where you can still borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbor, maybe you don’t, or maybe you’re afraid to ask. In the modern world, we tend to live in our own little universe of walls and accumulated possessions. But there are still people down the street that could use a hello and might even need to borrow something once in a while. I encourage you to be bold enough to reach out beyond your front door and share with your neighbors. What better way to get to know each other a little better?

A Couple of Scenarios to Consider

Giving: Imagine, if you will, that your family has done a lot of camping over the years, so you have a ton of camping supplies stored in the basement. Then, imagine that your neighbor’s son has just joined the local scout troop and is preparing for his first campout. Do you remember how overwhelming it was to collect everything when you first started camping? He’ll need a tent, mess kit, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, first aid kit, flashlight, compass, and more. Well, his parents are going through the same thing now…and they don’t even know if their son is going to stick with scouting. Wouldn’t it feel great to let them borrow a few items for the weekend?

Receiving: What if a stray dog or cat found it’s way to your back porch and you didn’t know the owners? You don’t have pets yourself, but you want to make sure it has what it needs until you figure out what to do. How helpful would it be if a pet-owning neighbor gave you enough food and treats for a few days, and maybe even loaned you a pet crate or carrier to keep it safely contained? You might be surprised by how easy it is to source these items from neighbors, and how happy they’ll be to help out.

Serving: Think back to the last storm that came through your area. Were any tree limbs knocked down? Not everyone has the strength or mobility to manage the clean-up. If you are able, why not offer your neighbor a hand? Better yet, introduce yourself to your neighbors before something happens and let them know you are there if they ever need anything.

Reduce, Reuse, and Get to Know Your Neighbors

Your neighbors probably won’t knock on your door and ask to borrow a tent. And you may not be apt to knock on theirs to inquire about using their 32-foot extension ladder so you can clean the leaves out of your gutter. But why not? Sadly, we can get caught up in the idea that we might bother people. And, well, sometimes (not always or even usually) that may be the case.

Fortunately, the digital age has provided us with an alternative method for reaching out to neighbors. Buy Nothing and other community-based online groups were created for exactly this purpose…getting to know your neighbors through sharing. You can either share from your excess or source items you need from neighbors before buying something new. And you can make all the arrangements online!

When you start thinking about items you may have stashed away in your home, I am sure you will discover a long list of things that are:

• left over

• unused

• rarely used

• partially used

• don’t fit anymore

• not your current preference

You could share just about anything, but here are a few examples to help you reduce, reuse, and get to know your neighbors.

50 Household Items You Can Share With Your Neighbors

1. Baby or Toddler Items

26. Halloween Costumes

2. Batteries

27. Hand Trucks

3. Beach Supplies

28. Holiday Decor

4. Books

29. Hygiene Products

5. Camping Equipment

30. Jewelry

6. Candles and Air Fresheners

31. Ladders

7. Carpet Remnants

32. Landscape Equipment

8. Cleaning Products

33. Moving Boxes and Supplies

9. Clothes

34. Organizing Containers

10. Construction or Renovation Materials

35. Paint and Painting Supplies

11. Craft Supplies

36. Paper Supplies

12. Curtains

37. Party Supplies

13. Diapers

38. Pet Supplies

14. Electronics

39. Plant Clippings and Plants

15. Exercise Equipment

40. Puzzles and Games

16. Extra Chairs for Entertaining

41. Recipes

17. Firewood or Gas Logs

42. School or Office Supplies

18. Fishing Poles

43. Service or Assistance

19. Folding Tables

44. Sewing Supplies or Equipment

20. Food

45. Small Appliances

21. Formal Wear

46. Special Skills You Want to Offer

22. Furniture

47. Sports Equipment

23. Garden Produce

48. Tools

24. Gardening Supplies

49. Vitamins or Supplements

25. Grills or Firepits

50. Wheelchairs, Walkers and Crutches

If you are still hesitant to reach out to neighbors, remember that making connections through sharing can be a very positive experience that far exceeds a friendly wave across the lawn or courtyard. Not only are you making potential friends, but you are reducing the financial and clutter burden on each other. Plus, it’s an opportunity to show someone you care. You never know what you may find out when you have a neighborly chat over a borrowed fishing pole!

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