Using an object instead of owning it is practical, easy and cheap.
The first Library of Things in Catalonia, a pioneering project of social and environmental economy, opened in January of this year and has become a benchmark in the District and at the same time in other municipalities and neighborhoods of Barcelona that also want to promote a service similar in its environment.
More and more, we have become accustomed to accumulating objects at home that we hardly use but take up space, cost money and end up becoming waste. Today’s families lives surrounded by between 3,000 and 4,000 objects that they hardly use and that will probably never reach the end of their useful life.
For example, a drill is used on average 13 minutes during its useful life and, in general, electric tools for domestic use are only used 10% of the time for which they have been designed.
This model of consumption and production that we have adopted is completely contradictory with the finite planet where we live. For this reason, the organisations Rezero and Nusos cooperativa set out to study what would happen if, instead of each person buying these objects that we use only occasionally, they were put on loan.
These organisations studied and analyzed experiences that are already taking place in other countries (London, Berlin and Toronto) and, with the involvement of a group of volunteer neighbors from the Verneda and La Paz neighborhood, they have launched the first Library of Things of Catalonia, a space for lending objects, located in the Casal Ca l’Isidret in the Sant Martí District of Barcelona.
Currently, the 63 people who use the Library of Things can already borrow about 100 objects. They are objects that have been donated by people, entities and companies or that have been bought because there was a specific demand in the District. They are classified into the categories of Leisure and Adventure (bicycles, DVD player, tents, climbing shoes …), Cleaning and household (dishes, blender, bread maker, iron, ice buckets …), DIY and gardening (drill, extension cable, transformer, tool box …), Office (projector, scanner, stereo chain, battery charger …) and Health and Care (small and medium crutches, splints …).
The Library of Things is a practical example of Social Solidarity Economy, a project made by people for people.
Throughout these six months of existence of the Library of Things, there have been stories behind each object on loan. The Library of Things is an example of shared consumption from the Social Solidarity Economy.
Here are a few stories of some of the characters of the Library:
One of the users rented a wheelchair to help with her mother’s mobility problems. At that time they couldn’t buy any. So, since they were users of the Library of Things, they borrowed the chair. One day, a neighbor saw them and was interested in the condition of the lady. They explained that they could enjoy the wheelchair thanks to the loan they had made at the Library of Things. The neighbor recalled that he had long forgotten they have a wheelchair at home and that he could give it to them so that, at the same time, the Library wheelchair would be free for other people who may also need it.
There is also a user who gave the Library of Things three camping tents because she said they took up too much space at her place and she believed that they could have more uses than she gave them by sharing them with other people. This summer, for a weekend, she has borrowed the tents that she gave to the Library.
The Library of Things offers objects that bear a thousand human stories and that allow the generation of new ones, based on their shared and community use, which allows them to extend their useful life. This project, in addition to saving natural resources and waste, also leads to savings in money and space for users.
The replication of the Library of Things
In September we will reopen our doors with renewed energy, we will organize the data and make visible the environmental and community impact of the Library of Things during these months of operation; I hope that from our experience other initiatives like this can be born in the city and throughout the territory.
Happy summer and thank you very much to all the people who have made this wonderful social and environmental project possible.