The sharing economy culture continues as London’s Library of Things opens

The London Library of Things has a tagline, which goes: ‘why buy, when you can borrow?’ It’s a brilliantly simple ethos and one that the library bases its entire business model around. The social enterprise is all about encouraging communities to work together to borrow, share and learn from each other, rather than buying excess goods.recih

The sharing economy project which started in West Norwood, South London in 2014, was originally a pilot scheme based in a local library. The idea took off and after a Kickstarter campaign, the Library of Things now has a home, housed in modernised shipping containers (which are becoming a global retail property trend) located in Vale Street, West Norwood, right near where it started. Run by three friends, and a host of volunteers, everyone is invited to become a free member and then either attend a workshop to learn a new skill or borrow an item (for a small fee) from the ‘library’ catalogue. Items range from small tool boxes to an electric whisk.

We’ve spoken a lot on this blog about the rise of the sharing culture, as a current trend we are seeing. It is a direct response to the growing affluent society, where consumers are demanding more product and consuming more; the rise of a sharing culture is an antidote to that, and the movement is thriving.

In our WGSN report The Caring Economy (subscribers check it out here) we analysed the rise of a more empathetic society. At a time when millennials wear their politics on their profile pages and generation z chooses social activism over self-indulgence, caring has becomes a new form of social and cultural currency.

The sharing culture also feels very ‘now’ because of the rising creative class (most of us in society these days have a side gig or creative sideline hustle where we seek to collaborate with like-minded people) and the rise of the Internet, which makes global collaboration so much easier.

In our WGSN report called The Creative Class (subscribers check it out here) we profiled the Sonos studios in East London which was recently built around the idea of collaboration and sharing music ideas. “It creates a space where artists can experiment and share their work directly with music lovers in an intimate, collaborative environment,” says Sonos SMO, Joy Howard.

While in Brazil, we’re seeing the world of fashion embrace this idea, with a sharing designer wardrobe that encourages consumers to rent items and then return them for others to enjoy.

All of these examples, show the rise of kindness sitting hand in hand with the fashion and retail industries. Rather than feeling like an afterthought, it’s now a key part of the business model.

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