I recently moved after 30 years of living in a 2,000 sq. foot home. I find it amazing what can be accumulated after so much time, especially when you have the space for it.
And it turns out it can happen much more quickly. I recently witnessed a family with their over accumulation in under a year!
One thing that stood out to me during the move was everything I owned but only used once in a while or on special occasions. That got me thinking about all the time it took working to earn the money to buy the items, and then all the space needed to store them. And of course, all that packing I did to move them into my, now smaller, 1,600 sq ft home. Not surprisingly, a lot of these things are still in boxes in my unfinished basement.
Being part of various society shifting movements over the years like Ubuntu, Talking Trees and now Activate Us, there have been ideas tossed around about how to share household items that we typically don’t use all the time and aren’t personal to us. Items such as lawnmowers, gardening tools, board games, dishware, kitchen gadgets, camping equipment, bike racks etc.
This experience of moving, really hit home for me the impact of each of us owning items such as these has on us. That led me to contemplating how sharing them among ourselves could not only improve our lives but possibly help with the environmental impact of our planet.
Here is a list of the benefits I came up with that sharing our items could help with and I’m sure there are many more:
- less clutter in our lives
- less time spent shopping
- more money in our pockets
- more space in our homes (physically, energetically, emotionally)
- less mining of our planet for oil and minerals and fewer trees cut down for packaging since so many items are made from non-renewable materials like petroleum
- an opportunity to access items that you may not have or be able to purchase on your own
A few municipalities are now starting to run sharing programs typically at their waste sites which is good to see. Wouldn’t it be great if community sharing programs were commonplace among our neighbourhoods?
We could meet more neighbours and potentially make more personal connections. Since we have something in common with our neighbours, we’d be more likely to be more considerate and caring of each other. Maybe even such things as neighbourhood parties and get togethers that were commonplace when I grew up would start to come back. Possibly other ideas may come about for future projects and / or ways to save money or the environment.
Yes, there are logistics that would need to be worked out such as:
- an inventory of the items
- where the items are stored
- tracking who has borrowed the items
- the items return dates
- items condition
- an agreement around return condition and breakage such as, if you break it you pay for it.
Pooling a small monthly contribution could be a consideration to go towards new items as they wear out from use. Or even a larger amount if a more expensive item is needed such as a snow blower or trailer.
As with The Bridge model, agreements could be put in place so when conflicts arise there is a framework to deal with them like what Marshall Rosenberg the author of non-violent communication has created. There are books, courses and groups available to help learn and implement the concepts. From my perspective it is the people aspect that typically cause issues and being proactive is the smart thing to do.
If we take it a step further and implement more of The Bridge model, this could be a neighbourhood business that loans out items for a fee to the larger area.
All of this would give those involved the opportunity to practise communication, relational skills (the ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships among diverse individuals and groups) and to run a non-hierarchical business promoting fairness and treating each other as equals. Teal Practices discussed in The Bridge’s “Self Organizing” section of Activate Us’ website has concepts and practises for new paradigm businesses.
Oh yes, let’s not forget, we could earn some extra money. Who couldn’t use a little extra these days?
Taking these steps would definitely throw a few Monkey Wrenches as people learn and implement new ways of being in community and running businesses. Who knows, it may even bring into being the Cascade if another / more businesses started and then Metabolism could be explored to equitably distribute money among the workers. These components are part of The Bridge that aid us in transcending our outdated societal structures altogether.
I see sharing programs as an opportunity to turn the excess items so many of us have in our homes into something much more. It may sound like a challenge, and it is somewhat of an undertaking, BUT it is a decision away to try it out. Let’s not forget that what we have now is not working out to well.
For some, this is an imaginary pie in the sky story, even if it seems like a great idea. For others, it may inspire something within them, maybe contemplation and possibly even action. At the very least, please share it with friends and family and who knows what the possibilities are.