An observation on the significance of the Library of things

It is commendable that Hackney Council is lending its support to the new Library of Things in Dalston. The scheme enables all sorts of popular tools, implements and appliances to be borrowed and re-used by the public at affordable prices. This initiative supported by members of Sustainable Hackney is a small but important step forward for reducing waste and sets an example of how to lessen the environmental damage caused by consumerism and the unsustainable personal ownership of products which often have only a short and limited use and are clearly better shared and re-used.

If only this model of the library of things could be replicated and expanded on such a scale that it slowed or negated capitalism’s remorseless growth based on the production of commodities for corporate profit. Sadly there is little chance of that, but on a small scale it can reduce consumption and waste. Furthermore it provides an example of how with a system based on production for social use and not profit; less of our precious working lives would be spent making stuff and less of our precious leisure time would be spent buying stuff that depletes and pollutes the planet’s resources to only, at the end of a short life, finish up in land-fills, incinerators or dumped in the global south. 

The Library of Things model taps into the growing realisation that our capitalist economic model has failed and is broken and needs to be replaced by a system attuned to social need and not profit. Most things need to be re-cycled and not scrapped with the one exception of this economic system itself which is causing the environmental and climate crisis. Fitting then, perhaps that the new Library of Things is located in the library named after the renowned Trinidadian Marxist, CLR James.           

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