Sharing is one of the very first things we are taught to do as children, it’s almost the defining difference between being ‘good’ or seen as selfish. But from the moment we become adults the focus quickly shifts in modern economies to everyone having their own things and protecting ‘private property’. Not only does this exclude people with little money, it leads to a lot of environmentally wasteful over-consumption as households duplicate often underused items. If we shared more in modern life it could cut waste and bring us together. Now a movement is emerging to rediscover the benefits of sharing.
The Share Shed is a library of things in the town of Totnes in the southwest of the UK (also home to the Transition Town network). People can donate useful items to the library – like ladders, drills, carpet cleaners, camping, cooking and gardening equipment, and sewing machines – and others can borrow them for an affordable fee. This enables locals to borrow items rather than buy them for themselves and then leave them unused in a shed or cupboard for years. The aim is to build a more resourceful community, allowing people to connect with each other and share things they may need just once in a while, helping people to save money, space and resources.
Share Shed was set up in Totnes in April 2017 by the Network of Wellbeing, with the help of Totnes town council and Lottery Fund support. It was inspired by a similar initiative in the UK West country town of Frome, where the sharers had helpfully designed a kit to encourage others to set up sharing schemes.
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