cc Flickr / Thomas Heyman
As thinking on the circular economy makes its way to the highest echelons of the EU, many of us are already hard at work thinking about how to cut waste in our everyday routines. And there’s a product, not one you tend to associate with excitement, which offers lots of potential. Enter the washing machine!
Most of us have bought into the model of purchasing and owning a washing machine at home. But this raises questions about what happens to the machine when it breaks down. Often, repair can cost as much buying a new one, and that’s if it’s possible at all. So a solution to the first problem is for the service provider to provide a leasing service.
Bundles is a Dutch company that already offers this type of service. The choice of machines and ease of getting problems fixed make this type of leasing model attractive.
Sharing is also an option. In fact, that’s what we do when we go to a public laundry or it can happen in large buildings, where they can be found at every floor or in the basement. The benefits are dual: space is saved in individual dwellings, and time is saved as the shared laundry is equipped with professional machines that have much shorter cycles
The big advantage is that, when operated under a leasing scheme, maintenance and repair is integrated in the management of the shared laundry, making sure machines are always up and running.
Ecodesigning means easier to repair and longer-lasting
Of course, many of us will prefer to own the machine and not share. But that takes us back to the second problem which plagues our machines. They can break down and it can be hard to fix them.
The answer here is to ecodesign them. They need to be made in such a way that the repairman or repairwoman can actually do their job without having to take the whole machine apart. And the machine should last as long as possible.
This is what the champion washing machine called L’Increvable, which is French for the unkillable, offers: a machine for life. The idea is that this is a machine you can assemble yourself and get repaired or upgraded easily. On offer is a product that you don’t need to throw away or replace because it’s outdated.
Reducing resource use and overconsumption doesn’t mean reducing the freedom to choose products. It’s actually the opposite. It opens up new ways of consuming beyond the traditional own-and-discard model. In fact, it may just free us from the quasi-totalitarian model of make-use and throw away.