Friday, 5 October 2012

Owning stuff

One of the key ideas in a resource based economy, shared with Natural Capitalism, is access to the service provided by a product, rather than ownership of the product. The obvious example is public transport, but the idea is spreading.

Spending some time recently de-cluttering has made me think about the value of things. In one or two cases I have mad a few £ selling something on e-bay. These £ do not have any value until I redeeem them on some other good or service, and they disguise the true value of the item, which is of course in its use.

Some of the decluttering has been of a shed. It is so ingrained in us that the value of something is in its physical presence in our home (or shed) that many of us have got stuff there which we never use and perhaps will never use, but it is ours and we keep it, because we somehow believe the value of it accrues to us because we possess it. If anything though, it is of negative value. It possibly takes up precious space, and it nags at our conscience, especially if we've paid £ for it and never got value for that £. We wasted the money, we tell ourselves.

But what if we give these items away to someone who will make use of them. Immediately the value of them - which is their use, not how much the cost in £, is released. OK their value doesn't directly accrue to us, but it can't, so why waste it even more by stowing it away? Let someone else have it if they'll use it. Not only does this stop waste, but you'll probably feel good by helping someone.