Scotland should start a National Leasing Service (much of which would be delivered very locally) which everyone would access via a website. It would offer multiple tiers of goods which it would deliver in different ways.
The first tier would consist of essential stuff that should last ages or be designed for constant upgrade – washing machines, fridges, freezers, computers, furniture. You would identify what you need for your house and select the products. You’d then get the highest quality version of these you have ever had, designed to be constantly professionally maintained and repaired when necessary. Yours for a couple of quid each a month.
This would be delivered by the National Leasing Service setting up a high-quality, low-volume manufacturing centre which makes these things to a very high standard and specifically to be repairable and upgradable. It would identify any Tier One products it can’t produce and source them from producers which meet the high-quality, repairable criteria.
These products would be more expensive than consumers are used to and the regular maintenance service would also have a cost, but you would never be aware of this because they last so much longer and the cost is spread over their lifetime. You’ll pay less, get more.
The next tier is made up of products to which we really need to change our relationship for the sake of the environment. For example children’s toys. Most families with young children will accumulate a large volume of plastic children’s toys, many of which will barely be used. This is very damaging.
To change this, once you have selected your core equipment, you sign up to the kids toys section – say 12 at a time (you could choose how many). Your kids can go onto the toy section of the website and browse toys for as long as they like (this is actually the bit they enjoy most…). All they have to do is send one back and they can get the next one. More, better toys – less cost, no waste.
Another example is fast fashion. Next you would sign up to an outfit allowance – however many social events you think you’ll be at in a year. In the Spring, you get an email with lots of designs for the Autumn/Winter season from the burgeoning Scottish fashion design industry. Same again in the Autumn for Spring/Summer.
You choose the ones you want to see added to the clothes library and they get commissioned (and you can choose from quality fashion from other sources to add to the library too).
Then, the National Leasing Service would convert an under-utilised shopping mall or big retail space near you into a fashion centre, with cafes and restaurants and bars and childcare. Lots of little boutiques would have collections of clothes from the library to try on. You can spend as long as you like browsing and trying on outfits. When you have the one you really want worked out you would book it for your event and the clothes would be posted to you a couple of nights before.
Of course these will be very high-quality (goodbye polycotton), many made in Scotland and all cared for and maintained. No-one will want to go to an event in some cheap, disposable sweatshop garment again. If you discover an outfit is just ‘you’, you can buy it.
You can get quick, very inexpensive access to almost anything at all you would like to try with no loss and no regret if you end up not liking it
The next tier consists of products you just don’t need to own, like tools. Everyone would be close to a tool library and you can either pop in and borrow stuff as a member of the National Leasing Service or you can log on and book the tools you need in advance, just to be certain. There are far too many things that fall into this category to list. (How often do you really use your bike? A tennis racket?)
The final tier, Tier Four, makes this a radical new economic model. Here you are encouraged to play, because here the National Leasing Service is open to small businesses. Because they’ve been helped to shift their business model to leasing, they are all part of the service.
Now you can try anything you fancy. Perhaps you play music but have never tried the trumpet; you might hate it, or you might find it’s your instrument. Lease it for three months and if it works for you, extend the lease for as long as you want. If it really works for you, buy it outright. If it doesn’t work for you, send it back and try the violin.
Choose a video game console and game and lease them until you complete the game. Then, if the next game you want to play is exclusive to a different console, send them both back and get the console and game you want now.
All these shops will work best if they’re varying degrees of local so you can go and try things out. This supports the local economy. Less common things might be further away or some very specialist things might only be available from one supplier at the national level.
This creates and entire leasing economy of small thriving businesses. And it means you can get quick, very inexpensive access to almost anything at all you would like to try with no loss and no regret if you end up not liking it. Just try something else.
You would have control. You can set a limit on how much you spend per month – perhaps you want to limit your monthly leasing bill to £100. No problem – that would still give you and your family enormous scope.
And it produces next to no waste. It transforms your life for the better. You get more things, better things, spend less on them and face no risk if you want to experiment or try new things. It boosts the local economy and supports small businesses. You are finally only limited by your imagination – and you still get to indulge your guilty pleasure of browsing and shopping…
A National Leasing Service could transform everything.