Can borrowing save the world?

A typical garage full of ‘stuff’

I’m really afraid humanity is shopping ourselves to extinction.

Because in addition to the ecological destruction that takes place in order to create all this stuff we’re busy buying, there’s the double whammy of all the waste it creates too. Globally households throw away a staggering 2 billion tonnes of ‘stuff’ each year.

However waste isn’t just what ends up in landfill.

Waste is also all the stuff gathering dust in our homes — whilst our neighbours are busy buying yet more of the very same stuff! The typical US home for example has a whopping 300,000 things in it, whilst the oft-quoted drill is used for less than 20 minutes of its life.

Clearly this is insanity.

If we’re to avert the worst effects of the rapidly accelerating climate and ecological crises, it’s absolutely essential we move from our economic model of ownership (and waste), to one of guardianship (and utilisation). Or in the words of the OLIO strapline: we all need to “Share more. Waste less”.

Which is why we’re *so* excited to be launching OLIO Borrow — a brand new section in the OLIO app where trusted neighbours can lend and borrow everyday household items. Think books, games, tools, kitchen appliances, fancy dress costumes, camping gear and more.

“But what about loss or damage?” I hear you wonder.

This is something we’ve thought about a lot, and are tackling by giving you control over who can borrow your items — for example only people who have a 4*+ rating, who’ve shared with 5+ OLIOers, and/or who live locally. And of course there’s a lot you can learn from a neighbour’s profile page too! It’s also worth remembering that all OLIOers are mobile verified, and we’re recommending lending low value, non-sentimental items only. However this is just the start, as we have a new ‘Wanted’ section coming soon, and next year there will be lots more improvements including providing insurance to give additional peace of mind.

We very much hope that through making borrowing simple, safe, fast and fun, it will become second nature — much like buying is today. And maybe, just maybe, we can help save the world.

So… what are you going to lend? At the top of my list is our pasta machine, lots of books, a cat carrier, serving dishes and some garden games. I seriously *can’t wait* to see those things getting used rather than wasted, and I’m sure I’ll have some wonderful doorstep conversations too :)




Co-Founder & CEO of OLIO, the food sharing app. Getting my head around the climate crisis. Passionate about sustainability, startups & diversity.

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Tessa Clarke

Tessa Clarke

Co-Founder & CEO of OLIO, the food sharing app. Getting my head around the climate crisis. Passionate about sustainability, startups & diversity.

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