Q&A: Charlotte Thorpe
The Library of Things is a social enterprise that allows people to rent out useful items like drills, sound systems and sewing machines. It also helps people share practical skills like DIY and repair with others in the community. Following its opening in Finsbury Park, head of marketing Charlotte Thorpe tells us how it works – and why we should all look to rent, not buy, for the sake of the planet and our pockets
What’s it all about?
It started way back in 2014, with co-founders Emma, Sophia and Rebecca. They wanted to re-imagine the high street so decided to do a trial run to see whether people would be interested in hiring rather than buying household items. It was a huge success – they saw how much people valued it, so decided to take it to communities across London.
How does it work?
People can go online, pick what they want to borrow, then pop into Bright Sparks Repair and Reuse Store on Seven Sisters Road to collect it. It’s completely self-service: there’s a touch screen at the kiosk, where you type in your email address and it tells you what locker your item is in. You do a checklist to make sure you have everything you need, then once you’re done with it, you return it and check it back in – very much like an ordinary library.
What sorts of things can you borrow?
Household items you don’t use often: things for DIY, gardening, entertainment, hosting – all the kinds of things you might want in your home, but don’t use very often and take up space such as drills and sewing machines. A drill, for example, is used on average for about 15 minutes in a lifetime, yet we’ve all got one clogging up our cupboards. It’s bad for the environment – and it’s expensive. The Library of Things is an affordable alternative.