You will have seen those large yellow storage sites on your travels. Massive buildings full of units to store stuff. Business is booming… because we all have too much stuff. I will leave it to you to define your stuff, but you know what it is. Our homes are overflowing. Sheds, garages, spare rooms and the loft are full of it.
Maybe you don’t need (or use) 80% of it.
Buying is dying
Bookshelves heaving? Could they all be on one small e-reader like a Kindle?
Stacks of music CDs? Digitally stream a music collection of unlimited potential on Spotify or Apple Music. In 2018, Apple has over 40 million music subscriptions and it only started in 2015.
Film DVDs under your TV? Netflix and Amazon Prime let you choose from a huge collection of films in seconds. There may even be old VHS tapes in your house, but nothing to play them on.
Bicycle in the garage? Hire a Santander ‘Boris Bike’ or something similar like Ofo and Mobike (no docking stations) for when you need one.
Car in the driveway? Uber, Zipcar and Lyft could solve that for you. No MOT, servicing or insurance. Or Halo for a taxi.
Holiday home in Dorset? Try renting from Airbnb. They have a wide selection. No care and maintenance worries. Change the location for every visit.
Fridge full of food nearing the sell-by date? Get what you want for an evening meal delivered freshly to your door. Watch out for Amazon Prime Now coming to you soon. Deliveroo, Hello Fresh and Gousto are growing brands. Even Waitrose offers Cook Well Boxes of fresh ingredients.
Boxes and drawers full of paperwork? Try FileSafe, Dropbox or Office365 to digitally store and access everything from anywhere in the world.
Want somewhere to live? Rent it. Come and go as you please. Live somewhere new next year. Fancy taking a job far away? Noisy neighbours? Simply move on.
Wardrobe full of posh frocks and DJs? Still in fashion? Still fit you well? Honestly? Rent the latest and most fashionable clothes for those one-off events, then hand them back.
Freedom: The rise and rise of the subscription service.
Subscribing to things isn’t anything new. Magazine subscriptions, a gym membership and even leasing a car are ways of subscribing to something. As technology has increased, so to have the number of things we subscribe to.
All this can mean that you can live in your home in a kind of minimalist utopia. Why own things when you can subscribe to everything? Do your ‘things’ define you?
Perhaps they do to some extent and is that such a problem? A lifetime collection of books that mean something to us. Vinyl music that moves and inspires us. Artefacts and antiques that are family heirlooms and have their own story. These are the things that make us unique and not an automaton.
Space and convenience
Everyday life is so busy and many of these services are there to simplify things. John Maynard Keynes thought we’d all be working 30-hour weeks by 2030. Our problem would be too much spare time as technology would help us work less and more efficiently. Usually what it means is that we find additional things to keep us busy. We have more time to work, which also means we have more time to earn. Time is money and money is power. For some people their work defines them.
It can mean that we end up subscribing to everything because that seems like the easiest and most efficient thing to do. Before you know it, you’ve created a situation where the bookcase has more photos than books and the CD and record collection have disappeared.
There’s no denying that subscription services can have an environmental benefit. A Kindle can store a veritable library of books. The demand for plastic CD cases must be declining. Research suggests that with realistic levels of take-up, a direct substitution of car trips by delivery vans, such as those by Ocado could reduce vehicle kilometers by 70% or more. Such is the ‘evil’ of single-use plastic it has heralded the return of the milkman. One of the original subscription services.
Like much in life, the rise of the subscription service doesn’t have to fall into the good or bad camp. If we think about what is important to live our lives to extract maximum enjoyment, we can use these new services to our advantage. If you can’t stand cooking, there’s a service that will take care of that for you.
Hate the weekly shop? It can all be over in 15 minutes from the ease of your armchair. Maybe keep your favourite books. The same goes for records. Perhaps you don’t need that Black Lace album but there’s no way you would part from your David Bowie or Rolling Stones collection.
It’s the future
You can use the rise of the subscription service to cultivate a collection of “things” that define you. Where you can truly say of everything you own – “I love this”. Everything else can be stored elsewhere or outsourced so you can live a streamlined life. Full of objects of ultimate enjoyment and free from clutter and distractions.
Take a look around your own home with some Post It notes to hand. See how many ‘things’ you tag which can go from your life. Then sit back and relax in your new space. For more ways to declutter your life and remove hassle, read Capital’s blog Spring clean and declutter your life.
At Capital we believe in taking the time to look at life through new eyes.