Loan and hire activities come under the umbrella term of the "sharing economy", a term which encompasses the idea of sharing property, time, skills and other resources.
Local libraries often rent out videos, DVDs, computer games and CDs and often at very little cost as well as loan books.
Book shares are easy to establish and need little attention once set up. The basic concept is that work colleagues, for example, bring into work any books that they no longer want to keep, and leave them in a designated area. These books are then free to a good home and colleagues are able to take any books that they might like to read; these can then be returned when finished with. No money is exchanged but everyone is able to benefit from the store of books that builds up. Book shares can also be organised by the community groups.
Toy libraries provide the opportunity for children to have access to a wide range of toys which have been selected with their development and education in mind. The library acts as a meeting place for parents and carers whilst giving children the opportunity to play. Loan of toys is often subject to a small membership fee but in some instances is free. For more information on toy libraries see the Pre-school Learning Alliance website.
Tool hire reduces the need to purchase new tools (that may only be used once or infrequently). There are several national tool hire companies and also localised companies.
Clothing hire for one off, special events is now popular. Rather than buying expensive items that are only worn once these services give people the option of hiring a designer outfit for a fraction of the price. Examples of these sites include:
The Good Wardrobe have a directory showing where mens and womens clothing and sewing machines can be hired. Under the directory section of the website there is also information about face to face and online re-use opportunities and skills shares for clothing repair.
Local Authority involvement
Councils can initiate and operate share schemes or support local community groups to run one. Local Authorities can offer support by:
- Providing information on the location of toy libraries, hire shops etc.
- Providing examples of what can be done
- Providing information on websites and telephone numbers where more information can be found.
- Providing a weblink from the council website.
- Assisting with any media stories.
- Assisting with advertising via council-produced newsletters and other forms of communications.
- Assisting with funding e.g. for the local toy library to advertise their scheme.