As we are becoming more aware of how much we consume and how this impacts on the environment and also our pockets, the sharing economy (whether that is for free or for a fee) is flourishing here in Copenhagen. (Want to understand more about the sharing economy? This article sums it up nicely.)
There are many things we use on occasion such as tools and personal transport which are expensive to purchase for infrequent use. Or things such as maternity and baby clothes which are only useful for a short window of time. Add into that expensive equipment used for endeavours such as 3D printing, it is great idea to share or loan to save money and the planet but also to give people access to opportunities that couldn’t afford otherwise.
In this post I am going to do a short round-up of various sharing economy options easily accessed in Copenhagen and Denmark.*
There are a few tool libraries available in the city. Some places you need to take your project to the tools and others you can loan to tools to take home.
Think.dk is a not for profit project located in Østerbro. They have a small but excellent tool library available to members. As well as accessing the tools you also can become part of an exciting and interesting community of people who are striving for a more sustainable future (and have fun too). Visit their website to find out more.
Copenhagen FabLab, based in Valby, is a free open access, shared and user-driven tool workshop. They have a number of large machines to use as well as smaller ones and hand tools. You need to use them there. You can find out how it works on their website here
What can you do?
If you live in an apartment building it is not uncommon to see a number of step ladders outside people’s back doors, however this is the tip of the iceberg of tools and DIY materials people own and rarely use. You could get together with neighbours to share tools and equipment within your building or street.
Owning a car in Denmark is expensive for infrequent use, not to mention the impact of regular cars on the environment. We have an excellent mass transportation system here so living without owning a car is completely possible. However there are times when you may need a car or bike to get around or a trailer to move furniture or rubbish.
I have written about car share schemes (most of which offer electric cars) here before so I won’t repeat it here – just pop over to this post to read more.
3D printing is something many people want to try out but it can be very expensive to buy a printer and the consumables. The library in Tårnby has a couple of 3D printers available during the opening hours of the library. There is a cost for materials but it is very affordable. To find out more visit their website.
The FabLab in Valby (mentioned above) also has 3D printers. They are free to use but like the library, they charge for materials.
The two types of clothes I can think of which lend themselves best to the sharing economy are baby clothes and maternity clothes. Realistically babies get through a lot of clothes as they grow so rapidly and gently used baby clothes are so much softer than new ones. You are only going to use maternity clothes for around half your pregnancy and who wants to fork out for a winter coat to cover a bump for few months?
Vigga is a website where you can borrow organic baby clothes and maternity clothes for a much smaller investment than buying them new. I wished this had existed when I was pregnant and a new mum. Not only does it save plenty of money but you don’t have to go to the shops either, which is a great benefit for pregnant women and new parents.
I listened to a podcast a few weeks ago where they were talking about fast fashion and the desire for some people to never wear an outfit twice. It is adding to the vast amount of clothes going to landfill or overwhelming charity shops. They suggested that the way forward was for people to rent clothes rather than buy them. This is not a totally new concept as when I was a student it was common for people to hire dinner jackets and ball dresses for special events and the same goes for weddings for brides, grooms and other wedding party members. There don’t seem to be many places where you can rent regular clothes here in Copenhagen however I did find KALO København which, for a subscription, you can borrow higher end clothes.
What can you do?
Perhaps you want get together with some similar size friends with common clothing tastes and put together a shared wardrobe for more expensive items? Or set up a clothes swap party where everyone brings some clothes to swap, a bottle of wine and some nibbles? I am aware of a few of these groups in Copenhagen but they tend to keep themselves, understandably, small and for a group of friends but there is no reason why anyone can’t start their own.
Love Not Landfill organised a large public clothes swapping event in London last month and Fashion Revolution has one coming up in June (if you are in London then). I’d love one of these organisations come here to Copenhagen and run an event. Niomi Smart, a YouTube, also organised an event last year, you can watch her video here.
Other things you can do
Of course the most obvious way to get into the sharing economy is to use your local library to borrow books, magazines, board games, toys (the list is endless) as well as using the printers, computers and meeting rooms.
In a lot of areas you may also spot share boxes. I’ve seen a few in Vesterbro (the one above is on Sønderboulevard) where people put a variety of useful items and books in a public cupboard for people to take if they need them.
*I have not used all the services here.