By Ankit Gupta, cofounder Rentoys.in
“Working with Zipcar really opened my eyes to the idea of excess capacity. I truly understood, and worked into the website and marketing materials, that people could only pay for what they used, and didn’t need to buy more than they wanted.” Robin Chase, the co-founder of Zipcar
Buying is the opposite of sustainable living
When you buy something, you promote production of that thing. More production means more consumption of raw materials and subsequently depletion of natural resources. This may seem a bit exaggerated until you have a look at this great infographic.
According to the infographic, a rare-earth metal Indium is slated to deplete in the next 5-10 years. Indium (when alloyed with tin) is the “go to” metal for LCD and touch screens. In fact, the demand for the metal in flat panel displays (FPDs) alone ranges from around 52% to 56% of the total net demand for the metal. If the production of touch screens and FPDs won’t slow down, it might even be less than 5 years for Indium to say goodbye to Earth.
More production not only consumes natural resources, but also contaminates the environment. Take plastic for example. It doesn’t degrade and most of it end up in trash sites as well as in forests, creeks, rivers, seas, and oceans around the world. Not only this, the production of plastic for the U.S. alone uses 331 billion barrels of petroleum, equal to 5 percent of the US consumption of petroleum – a non-renewable resource.
Buy only when you can consume, else share
Every use of a purchased item can be considered a service from that item. For example, you can either buy a set of scissors and get a haircut (a service by the scissors) or go to a salon and achieve the same objective in the form of a service by a barber. Extending the same concept to all the purchases, you may as well stop buying things altogether, as long as all your needs are getting fulfilled.
According to Nicolas Voisin, founder of TheAssets.co, which trades in business-related goods, “80% of the things in our homes are used less than once a month, and self-storage has increased by 1,000% over the past three decades.” These underutilized assets are the core of excess capacity, production, and resource consumption.
If we don’t stop buying and start sharing, the depletion of key natural resources is inevitable.
Now, focusing only on parents and their buying behavior. If you are a parent of a toddler, you can very well relate with this image.
Can you estimate how much of this is plastic! And, it’s not that only cheap toys are made of plastic. Even your kid’s favorite Hot Wheels and LEGO are made of plastic and there is nothing called as a good plastic.
Last year alone, LEGO made more than 60 billion plastic bricks. To put that in context, it has made the Guinness Book of World Records for being the “largest tyre manufacturer per annum”. Now, a kid plays with one LEGO set only once, or max twice. But, a LEGO brick can be used 37,112 times! This signifies the quantum of asset underutilization and wastage of natural resources. LEGO says its plastic pieces will be made with sustainable material by 2030. Until then, we have a solution – Reuse toys!
Decrease your carbon footprint by renting toys and save environment
A new report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation finds that a circular economy (Reduce-Reuse-Recycle) could bring annual benefits of US$624 billion in 2050 – a benefit equivalent to 30% of India’s current GDP, through reduced material costs and increased profits for businesses. In my opinion, only a conscious effort towards this cause can achieve the estimated benefits.
In 2015, the LEGO Group’s total emissions output globally was approximately one million tonnes of CO2. If everyone, instead of buying, rent a LEGO at least one time, it means a flat reduction of half a million tonnes of CO2!!! And what if:
Rentoys is not just a toy rental company, but a vision to protect the environment
Rentoys is built as a socially responsible company and is on a mission to reduce the landfills of discarded toys. Not only we promote reuse of our toys, but also act as a conduit for your used toys to reach those who are not as privileged as many of us to play with toys. We also donate one toy for every new customer from our revenues.
In the end – Why Renting
I must admit that the idea of renting toys repelled me at first. How could I let my kid play with used toys! The pride of ownership had blinded my eyes. But, as I got to know the original founders of Rentoys, their vision, and the negative impact I was making by buying toys, I started absorbing the concept. Finally, spending 2 years in the US with a toddler, without spending a single dollar on toys, and watching my son learn and grow with rented ones showed me that I actually never ever need to buy toys to play with them.