Reggie draws our attention to a “borrowing shop” in Berlin.
The idea is simple. The shop has a stock of useful things like tools. Customers borrow the items as if the shop were a lending library instead of buying them for keeps.
It’s a way for a community to pool resources and for individuals not to suffer the burden of ownership.
If it were common to see this in neighbourhoods and the idea of borrowing, say, a lawnmower or a drill were a dependable one, it would be a real boon for minimalism and community spirit.
Just as you don’t need to own Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows because it’s definitely in your local public library, you wouldn’t need to own a drill if you knew there was one to be borrowed from the borrowing shop.
I made the mistake of reading some of the comments thread in the article about the Berlin borrowing shop and it was filled with variations of the obvious criticism: how does it make money?
Generously overlooking the fact that “making money” shouldn’t be the aim of every last goddam thing (especially a community initiative for the benefit of everyone), the answer would be to charge a nominal fee per lend.
I don’t know why that would be a problem. Charge £2 per lend, perhaps with exceptions for the superpoor. Obviously. Everyone’s a winner.
It’s a great step back toward common public resources (payphone, town clock, public baths) instead of the private ones we’re all supposed to love under Neoliberalism.
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