A lawnmower, a line and a circle.
So a couple of days ago I threw away our children's green toy lawnmower. I had to throw it away because we are moving house soon. As I lobbed it into one of those huge dumping tanks it felt like a loss. It held memories, but I was sad too that it needed to be thrown away at all. It was joined by clothes, toys, buckets and a small table. All things made for a purpose but weren’t convenient to keep. Maybe someone could have played with this. Worn it. Repainted it. Loved it again?
I am becoming more aware now that my lifestyle perhaps like yours is largely dependant on a linear industrial process. Companies take valuable resources from the earth and make incredible things for us to eat, enjoy and play with. These things have a finite lifespan and when they come to an end we use incinerators to burn them or shipping containers to give them to a country more convenient than our own.
With a climate emergency taking place, recycling has become the most talked about player in the circular economy. Part of that is perhaps because us consumers have real choice over the destiny of our products. But what I am becoming increasingly convinced about is the transformative power of sharing. Today we are sharing pets, cars, bikes, toys, tools and even our houses.
Sharing cuts smaller circles in the industrial process. An object doesn’t need to wait till the end of the line before panicking about where it might go next. Instead, it offers the hope of being usable for two, three or whole groups of people before it even gets there. If I share something with you, both our carbon footprints decrease. Sharing is kinder than ownership. It forces us to meet each other, to trust each other with what feels like our own. It is more vulnerable than ownership. If you lend something to me, there is the chance something unfortunate might happen to it. But if it comes back alive and well, then your trust is rewarded with the chance of something larger. The opportunity for genuine relationship. I don’t want to try and help people share watersports gear simply because it might be a cheaper, greener alternative to ownership (though I hope it will be). I want to see genuine, open and meaningful relationships gain more strength than the power of linear convenience.