PETALING JAYA: In addition to adopting a more minimalist and zero-waste approach to their lives, an increasing number of people are also practising conscious consumerism, in which the social, economic and environmental impact of a purchase is taken into consideration.
As such, online rental platforms are becoming more popular as it prevents the hoarding of goods and at the same time, allows people to save money.
“There are times when I’ve wanted to try things that I didn’t feel like buying just yet, as I wasn’t sure if I would like it or not, but all the online rental platforms I came across were located overseas.
“So, instead of merely wishing we had similar avenues here, I decided to start my own,” said Gladys Wong Pei Qing, 34, the founder of Facebook group ‘Rent Something KL’, which provides an avenue for users to rent as well as post items they wish to rent out.
Since its inception in 2017, the group has over 6,300 members. In the same vein, Wong also created the Facebook groups KL Book Exchange and Penang Book Exchange.
When explaining the objective behind “Rent Something KL”, she said, “There are times where you buy something that you don’t end up using often. In addition, you’ll also have to find space to store that item; whereas if you rent, you can just return it back.”
In the group, all sorts of items are rented out, from camping gear, formal attire, costumes and winter clothing, to everyday household appliances.
Given the recent floods in the country, there were quite a few requests for high pressure jet water hoses.
Besides pictures, fee and rental duration, users are encouraged to include hashtags so that those interested can easily search for the items.
One item Wong, who works in the printing industry, was itching to try was the travel backpack. “I thought it was really cool that people travelled with backpacks, but I wondered if I could do the same as I’m actually rather skinny.
“I also didn’t want to buy one as they can be quite expensive,” she said, adding that she eventually rented a travel backpack instead for a small fee and discovered that she liked it very much.
In return, Wong has rented out her cotton candy maker several times. “A few parents have rented it; their kids really love it,” she said, smiling.
Over the last two years though, there has not been much activity in the group as people were reluctant to meet up at the height of the pandemic. However, things are slowly picking up, she told FMT.
Wong feels that although more people are embracing the rental market, Malaysia as a whole still has a long way to go.
“Most people aren’t familiar with this practice, and some worry that their things might get damaged in the process.
“There’s always a small risk of that, but at the end of the day, I feel we should keep an open mind, especially since people do rent out their homes on Airbnb, as well as their cars,” she said, adding that the few bad apples shouldn’t stop the rest from doing good.
More importantly, Wong said the current generation needed to change old perceptions and the old way of doing things.
“I’d encourage everyone to give it a try,” she said, adding that there has been no complaints so far and that renters are advised to ask for a refundable deposit as well.
In recent times, she noticed the emergence of more local rental platforms online. “They do charge some sort of service fee. As for our group, you deal with the owner directly – there are no hidden charges or fees to join.”
Anyone wishing to own less items should give this platform a try. Meanwhile, those with items collecting dust at home could consider renting them out instead.
Besides how liberating it feels to own less, there’s also much joy in exchanging things with “real people”, as opposed to buying them from large corporations.
“My favourite tagline is, ‘Why buy when you can rent?’,” she said, laughing. “Just remember to treat the things you borrow as if they’re yours.”
Those interested can join Rent Something KL’s Facebook group.