Do we need all of this stuff? I wondered if we should start a local debate about the way we consume things and could think of no better place to start than here.
It’s a debate about the way we spend money and our love of ownership.
Consumption hasn’t made us as happy as we thought it might and a lot of us worry about waste and the duplication of resources.
You may have heard about Collaborative Consumption – the idea behind Car Clubs but now spreading to many more parts of our lives. It’s big in the US and making its way over here as people become more interested in sharing. The idea is that “access is better than ownership” and that the way we’ve quickly learned to share music and photography also applies to furniture, our homes, our gardens and overnight stays on our sofas.
There’s a fantastic locally based charity doing something like this right here and now in Shepherds Bush at the W12 Shopping Centre and they deserve lots of support. Healthy Planet take unused retail space and use it to give away Books For Free. And because W12 have been so brilliantly generous Healthy Planet have also been able to involve Furnish – another great local charity to who collect and re-distribute furniture. Have a look at this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TPoF8ouWQQ - it warms your heart.
But this isn’t just about charity, this challenges our motive to acquire things in the way we’ve always thought we should. To borrow and expression from Rachel Botsman, a great advocate of Collaborative Consumption and co-writer of great new book ’What’s Mine is yOURs’ ’we don’t want the dvd, we want the movie, we don’t want the drill, we want the hole’.
My interest is where this all goes next and how relevant it is to us in H&F. There’s Garden Dating (using a patch of my garden I don’t use and sharing the produce) there’s Couch Sharing ( I know three people using http://www.couchsurfing.org/ to get around the world right now) but what else could there be?
There isn’t space here to raise this issue as much as I would like so how about this? Maybe we (thebestof with our friends like The Happiness Centre and Healthy Planet) should host a debate - perhaps one Saturday morning somewhere in the borough. We could speak a bit and debate a bit and work out what implication this all has for us here. I don’t mean to be parochial, I just have an instinct that if I imagine sharing something with someone in Shepherds Bush or Parsons Green it suddenly feels a lot more acceptable and manageable.