For the last few months Jamie has been adding the occasional non-book-things to our free little library. Sometimes these are toys, or art or other interesting things that find a home with one of the patrons from the neighborhood.
In a way this is a sort of embryonic version of a more ambitious project we’ve been noodling on we call the Recyclotron, but the Recyclotron is a bit more sophisticated and is designed primarily to find loving homes for things that might otherwise end up in a landfill. Someday we’ll get around to building one, but in the meantime this has been an interesting experiment along similar lines.
Recently Jamie put a few near-foodstuffs in the library (some k-cups), things we tried and decided we didn’t like, or things we received more than we could use, etc. This made me wonder what it would be like if every house on our street had a little box out front used the same way. The street would become something of a shop, stocked with otherwise unwanted items, available at no cost to the neighborhood.
Imagine if you were working on a project around the house and you needed a part, or if you were working in the kitchen and you needed an ingredient, or perhaps a painting and you need another brush…you get the idea. What if instead of heading out for Wal-Mart or having to wait for something via mail- order you could take a stroll down the street and perhaps find just what you need available for free? Even if you don’t find what you’re looking for maybe you find something else interesting, or maybe you just end up going for a nice little walk, regardless of the outcome the experience is positive, and you can always run to the store anyway if you don’t find what you need.
This seems like such a good and obvious idea that I’m sure someone else has thought of it, and perhaps even implemented it somewhere, but nothing comes to mind (if you know of such a thing please share). There may be potential downsides but nothing jumps out at me, especially if these boxes are located on their owner’s property (preventing them from becoming dumping grounds, which might happen if they are centralized on shared land) and if the size is somewhat dictated they would be naturally self-regulating in terms of contents and aesthetics (hard to park a Camaro on blocks inside one). It seems something like this would be particularly valuable in something like a “tiny house” neighborhood, where storage is at a premium.
I’m curious what others think of this idea, is it something you’d welcome to your neighborhood, or is there some downside that isn’t apparent? I’ll be thinking about how to extend our experiment and measure the results, but if you have thoughts or know of other similar efforts we’d love to hear about them.