Sharing's caring...

Borrowing Stuff

When you buy a toaster, what are you aiming to gain?
Not an appliance. The ability to have toast.

Most of the things we buy, we don’t actually need to own. This is the premise for sharing things with your friends or neighbours – co-operative consumption. I think that’s a great idea for things you don’t use every day, like lawnmowers, ladders or drills. But the fact remains that for many items, it would be simply inconvenient to share among households. Imagine nipping down the road every time you wanted to brush your hair. And of course there’s the fact that consumer goods are used to decorate our homes, as well.

Sharing's caring...

Sharing’s caring…

On a slightly different track, there’s growing pressure for producer responsibility when it comes to waste. This school of thought questions the local authority’s responsibility to manage all the waste created from broken or discarded consumer products, instead pointing towards the company who produced it. The point of this is that if companies had to deal with the waste, it’d be in their interest to make products more durable, upgradeable, repairable and eventually recyclable. If a product was totally broken beyond repair, they’d want to recover the materials they’d paid for. This would take us closer to closed loop production, and further away from the manic treadmill of new consumer products and planned obsolescence.

International carpet company Interface has been experimenting with a new model like this, where they sell a carpeting service rather than carpet. For a fee, they instal carpet tiles and replace each one individually as it wears out, recycling and discarding of the old carpet tiles themselves. This encourages them to produce durable carpet, saves resources, reduces waste and is less hassle for the client.

What if we could extend this service ethos to all consumer products?

I don’t know whether it would work but it definitely sounds like an idea that’s worth exploring.


6 thoughts on “Borrowing Stuff

  1. I grew up sharing, sure there were things we owned but we shared what we had with the neighbors and neighbors with us. I see a lot more sharing popping up in my community and am thankful. I think manufacturers should be responsible for the products when they break down, and to reuse the still working parts to cut down on waste. This year I purchased a freezer, I had been hoping to buy used (finally found a used model) but when it looked like I would have to buy a new model I was shocked by the customer complaints that their new freezers only lasted 1-2 years before breaking. I couldn’t purchase a freezer with that short of a life span.

    1. That’s great you’re seeing a return to that style of living in your neighbourhood. (:
      1-2 years? I think it’s shocking to create an appliance as resource heavy as a freezer and have it last less than a decade! I found out that the take-back model I was talking about in my post is called extended producer responsibility. I think at least for big or high tech items, it really needs to be the norm. That way they’d make products to last. Plus jobs would be created in repair and disassembly. Thanks for reading, as always!

  2. Borrowing/sharing models would be a big part of a steady state economy. Tool libraries are an example I’ve seen lately.

    1. Absolutely, because with a steady level of production and consumption you’d need to share, repair, reuse and recycle. I think book and tool libraries are brilliant, and I’ve seen toy libraries as well. A great idea because young kids always grow out of toys waaay before the toy is worn out.

  3. Sounds a great idea, love the ” Closed Loop Production” So many products are bought to throw away, and don’t last as long as many years ago..When everything at one time went to be repaired… including kettles .. which had replaceable elements .. We now live in a throw-away-society… And people can easily get items today via their plastic cards… Unlike again when in years past, we did without until we had saved enough to buy something.. And repaired everything because it cost too much to buy new…
    One only has to look at the bumper time scrap-metal men are having as they collect scrapped metal items thrown away every day…

    Great Topic

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