car sharing is to care…

This week in Sunday Life I car share

121277 3 600 car sharing is to care...
Photo by Charlotte Abramow

I own a power drill. It has moved house with me – shifting from one shelf under the sink to the next – three times. And you know how many times I’ve used it in our five years together? Twice. Which is normal apparently. The average drill emerges from under the sink for 12 minutes in its lifetime.

This sad statistic confirms a festering sentiment out there in the world: owning stuff is annoying and increasingly cluttery and inefficient. It’s like that itchy jumper you had to wear as a kid. It scratches at you incessantly, prompting a violent desire to strip.

But buying stuff is only a fraction of the equation. The real pain is living with it – storing the waffle maker in the bulging corner cupboard, servicing the lawnmower, packing up the Barbie campervan when you move house. And how can I explain it…it’s also the way it all just sits there idle, making you feel guilty like a dog needing a walk.

As Rachel Bosman author of What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption said when we spoke via email this week, “you don’t need to own a drill, you just need a hole in the wall…so borrow the drill, don’t own one”. Beautifully put. And indeed neighbourhood share schemes are popping up everywhere – in Australia there’s The Sharehood and Landshare, which launched in February and connects people wanting to grow veggies with folk who have a spare patch.

In March, sharing – instead of owning – was dubbed one of Time magazine’s Ten Ideas That Will Change the World. Since then much as been made of our itch to “live light”. Bosman confirms it’s not (just) an ethical or environmental crusade. It goes deeper than that.

This week I gave the concept a crack by signing up for car sharing, mostly because I find owning a car incredibly annoying. I also find this statistic staggering: on average we use our cars 8 per cent of the week. The rest of the time they hang about idle accumulating duco damage and parking tickets (at least mine does).

Read more