In October 2013, Stephanie Günther gave a presentation at homo ecos: about “collaborative consumption”. In this series of nine blogs, she explains what it is, and how it can help towards a more sustainable society. Chapter 8: In Your Free Time.
Public libraries and private video rental shops are well known by people who do not want to buy books or films – or who cannot afford them. They prefer borrowing or renting them for a limited use.
With internet and the development of social media, the renting, selling and exchanging of cultural goods and equipment for leisure and sports have very much developed and diversified: you can buy and sell books, films or other items via internet platforms like Ebay and Amazon, which provide an international network of exchange. Or you can use – or build up J – local or national services, as they exist in many countries.
There are platforms for the rental of all sorts of cultural goods, leisure and sports items. And there are providers specialized on the sale or rental of certain products: second hand electrical equipment like personal computers, cameras for photos or films, players for DVD or blue-ray discs, video games.
Or music instruments for you and your children; artwork for a changing decoration in your office and reception space; gambling machines and animation service for your children’s birthday party; magazines and periodicals for your doctor’s waiting room, your hairdresser’s shop or your personal needs; sports equipment for your activity holiday – or everything you need to organize a party, a wedding or any other event (tents, tableware, cutlery, glasses, decoration, furnishings, etc.).
Like in other sharing systems, there are commercial offers (B2C [business-to-consumer] and C2C [consumer-to-consumer]), which are based on profit or at least on cost compensation. And there are social motivated forms of exchanging, borrowing and offering products and services, often oriented on an environment of neighbourhood and friends and on a non-profit basis (so-called local exchange trade systems [LETS]; see also the article about “tools for house and garden”).
Cultural goods like books, newspapers, magazines, music or films can also be used in an immaterial way by consuming or downloading them on specialized sites or from specialized providers. Instead of buying the material product (book, newspaper, magazine, CD, DVD), you buy the function or the information. Some providers sell the product in a virtual manner (for example books you can read on a Kindle [Amazon] or songs you can download from the platform Rapsody [formerly Napster]). Others sell the access to a song (for example the platform Spotify), a film (for example the platform Videoload) or an information (newspapers and magazines): you buy the use of the product, but you do not become the owner of it (the song, the video, the novel or the article).
When using virtual products and information, you must always consider that these services cannot be free of charge – unless they are illegal or financed by advertising (which rarely works out for the producers). So when you download cultural goods for free, you undermine the existence and the future of writers, musicians, journalists and filmmakers.
- Rental (commercial):
- UK: http://www.alpinresorts.com/ (ski equipment); http://www.abcmusic.co.uk/ (music instruments); http://www.erento.co.uk/ (online rental market place; exists in different countries); http://hireshops.co.uk/ (all sorts of products); http://www.rhapsody.com/ (platform for renting/downloading music)
- USA: http://www.rentittoday.com/sporting-equipment-rental (sports equipment); http://fortbendmusiccenter.rtrk.com/ (music instruments); http://us.zilok.com/ (all sorts of products)
- Germany: http://computermiete.de/ (personal computer and equipment; site also in English); http://www.hyperdata.de/ (electrical equipment and services); http://www.geschirrmobil-verleih.de/ or http://www.rent4event.com/ or http://www.allesklar-verleih.com/ (party and event equipment); http://www.artothek.org/ (artwork); http://www.leihinstrumente.de/ (music instruments; site also in English); http://www.lesezirkel.com/ (magazines and periodicals); http://www.springfloh.de/ or http://www.spielgalerie.de/ (gambling equipment and services); http://www.mietfix.de/ (all sorts of products and tools); http://news.miet24.de/ (all sorts of products and services); http://www.onleihe.net/ (virtual books; temporary access); http://www.videoload.de/ (virtual films; temporary access)
- USA: http://www.amazon.com/ (new and second hand products of all kinds; offers in numerous countries); http://www.ebay.com/ (all kinds of second hand products; primarily C2C, but also B2C)
- Sweden: https://www.spotify.com/ (listening to music)
- Germany: http://shop.my-computec.de/ (formerly leased computers); http://www.musicload.de/ (music to download)
- Rental (mostly free or at least non-profit), exchange or offer:
- USA: http://www.freecycle.org/ (network of local groups for exchanging and giving away products; offers in different countries); http://snapgoods.com/ (exchange and rental of goods; free or for a fee); http://neighborgoods.net/ (exchange of products in the neighbourhood/on local level; offer exists in different countries and also in Latvia!); http://sharesomesugar.com/ (exchange of products in the neighbourhood/on local level)
- Finland: http://www.netcycler.co.uk/ (exchange of all sorts of products; offers exist in Finland, UK and Germany)
- Germany: http://www.tauschticket.de/ (platform for exchange of cultural goods on the basis of a symbolic currency); http://www.tauschring.de/ (platform for the peer-to-peer exchange of products and services; links to sites of local organisations in Germany and other countries)
Author: Stephanie Günther