Thursday, June 17, 2010

Green Company Highlight: Ecomodo

I'm pleased to share our most recent Q &A with Meriel Lenfestey, one of the founders of the innovative and green company Ecomodo. 

Ecomodo is an online service that enables people to lend and borrow each other's everyday objects, skills and spaces with confidence. They can do this for free, for a fee or for charity. Ecomodo facilitates the transaction to make good returns for all.

Mission: We want it to become the norm to make the items we have but seldom use available to other people around us.

Q.Where did the idea for Ecomodo originate? What/Who inspired it? 

A. The idea is one of those which feels so obvious. For years I've rushed out and bought things for my latest project, then they've sat and collected dust for ages afterwards. More recently, particularly with the recession and increasing awareness of the environment, I have avoided doing jobs, or trying new things when I don't have the gear. One day I was on a train, having another battle with myself because I wanted to buy something to get a job done but couldn't justify it. I looked out of the window and saw all the sheds in the back gardens along the track. I realised that the tool I wanted was probably in several of those sheds. If only there was a way to see into them. I'd pay the owners a small amount to borrow theirs instead of buying my own. The more I thought about it the more sense it made. 

I joined forces with a friend who coincidently had the same idea. We looked carefully at ways to motivate people to lend, and ways to make people confident to lend and designed Ecomodo. Enabling people to set up and join lending circles lets them restrict their lending to people they have a reason to trust, e.g. parents in the same toddler group. They can ask for deposits and insurance for extra peace of mind.

Q. What has been the response? 

A. We've had a great response although it is early days. In only 12 weeks over 500 people have signed up across the UK. We have hundreds of items listed ranging from stair gates, to pressure washers, to mosaic tools to greenhouse space. People have started lending.. money has been raised for one lender to redo their living room, for another to get solar panels, and several good causes have benefitted including a school PTA, and the Princes Trust. Borrowers have equipped themselves for camping trips, parties and to try things before they buy. Stephen Fry tweeted about us which drew a lot of attention.

Q. What are the next steps for Ecomodo? How can we help? 

A. We want Ecomodo to become a household name. To have a real effect we need lots of lending circles and neighbourhoods with many people lending and borrowing. We're concentrating all our efforts on raising awareness. We are working towards building critical mass. We need all the help we can get to pass the word around.

Q. How do people get involved/get in touch with you? 

A. I'd encourage Green Families readers to go to and click sign up. Once you've done that we can send you newsletters telling you about things to borrow and things people are asking for in your area.  

If you have a little more time, add any items you are prepared to lend and invite people you know. Think about the baby gear you no longer use but keep 'just in case', the camping gear you use once a year, any skills you can offer people, and any spare spaces you are prepared to lend out. Think about your reasons for lending. Would you want to charge anything? If so, would it be for yourself or for a good cause such as your school PTA or the NCT. Then tell everyone in the playground and all your friends. Get them adding all their stuff so that you can all see what is available to borrow.

Q. Top 3 green tips for our readers? 

  • Make your stuff earn its keep. If you don't need it any more give it away or sell it. If you do still want it then put it on Ecomodo. 
  • A community can be more than the sum of its parts when it comes to reducing environmental impact. Working together is better in every way. 
  • A green life can be a richer life. Sharing resources opens up new possibilities and builds new relationships.
So check out their website or you can also follow them on twitter

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