Saturday, April 23, 2011

Think access, not ownership

You don't need to own the mountains. You just need access to them.

You don't need to own things. You just need access to things when you want to use them.
Your local library is the cardinal example of this. You don't need to own the books, you just need to be able to read them. And it goes much further than that.
The line between where it makes sense to own and where it makes sense to access may not be where you think it is.
If you have access to a swimming pool or an arena, you don't need to own one, and you can still use it when you need to, for much less than the cost of owning it.
The same case can be made for much smaller items as well. Depending on usage, it may make sense to rent things like a concrete drill, camera lenses, home decorations or even clothes and handbags.
For example, companies like 'Rent The Runway' and 'Bag Borrow or Steal' will rent you designer dresses or handbags that might not otherwise fit in your budget.
Access trumps ownership here because there's (apparently) some stigma associated with being seen in the same dress twice. You get to look great without breaking the bank or storing the dress forever. When it goes out of style, you won't be left holding the bag. On the other hand, if you're a guy, you've got it easy: own the suit but rent the tux. 
Pooled community resources can really develop community and allow access to lots of things. Rather than having everyone own their own table saw, children's clothing, or automobile, we just need access to it from time to time. Whether that's renting tools from the hardware store or borrowing it from your neighbour or the community toolshed, you can still get the benefit you need.
There are mothers groups that share kids clothes, toys, and accessories that go back into the pool when the moms are done with them, then they can get other things their kids will like.
There are car-sharing co-ops that allow people who need vehicles occasionally to have access them without needing to own the vehicle outright. It saves them money on maintenance and licensing fees, while still letting people get around when they need to.
You might want to own things, but you don't need to own them to use them. You get most of the benefits from access at a fraction of the price.
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Access to things in the city (vs. transportation): City Design: People First

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