Free shops are a great idea. You get them in some squats and similar left wing community centres around the world.

Basically, you get a space, which could be a room or even just a wardrobe or a box, and encourage people to leave stuff they don’t want there for others to take.

This usually means clothes, books, but also other stuff like bags, accessories, tools, and other items.

They work: I mean that nobody comes over to take everything for themselves, and that they are very often a great place to find free stuff. And, anyone who feels guilty about throwing away something they aren’t using can find a much better alternative here.

So, my idea is to push for free shops to be sponsored by the government and found in every neighbourhood of every town – i.e. within walking difference of basically everyone.

I think it’s a concept with a logic that doesn’t sound too hard to convince people of. Sure, you depend on a reasonable government – that or a strong social movement that can pressure even an unreasonable government. Depends on your approach and how militant you’re willing to get 😉

I think free shops could be located in public libraries (there is conveniently one in every neighbourhood of most towns), or possibly involve sheltered constructions placed outside in other public land such as parks.

Possibly, if you’re willing to build everything yourself and only need a go-ahead from your local govt, this could be really easy to convince them of. Having them put their own resources into this might be harder, but with enough of a push I think it should be possible too, at least in some places.

The great thing about this is that it’s a message to the world about sustainable living. Instead of the logic of twisted economics (consume more, spend more) we have the logic of sharing (it’s better to give something to someone than throw it away, and you can give without needing money in return).

I hope we can have free shops everywhere sometime soon.


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