Pumpipume is a sharing community which provides stickers for the mailbox, which display different objects that the household has and is willing to share. For example: A drilling machine, a sewing machine or a bicycle pump. These are all objects which are often used rarely and therefore not everyone has to possess their own. This was the initial idea behind the project: Sharing instead of buying each their own. We interviewed Lisa Ochsenbein, co-founder of the initiative.
Link to the website: www.pumpipumpe.ch/
Pumpipumpe stickers on a Mailbox (Image: Lou Pfister)
Interview with Lisa Ochsenbein from Pumpipumpe
"Pumpipumpe is an initiative for more vibrant neighborhoods and a more conscious use of our consumer goods that we often use little or rarely. There is a statistic that a drill
is used 13 minutes in its life, the rest of the time it is not used before it is disposed, often not even recycled properly, exactly and that was the starting point to this project."
Three people started the project, now the intiative consists of six or seven active people. There are three different types of users, she explains: "those who participate out of ecological reasons, people who want to get to know their neighbors, and then there are also people who want to save money. All of which have their justification and all of which are also common among the people who join Pumpipumpe." This makes Pumpipumpe not only ecologically sustainable, but also socially. Connecting the neighborhood is an important root of the project. They also added a digital map to the website which makes it easier to also have a digital overview and contact people digitally. Still, the local and real networks are the important and substantial part of the project. Getting out of one's comfort zone and meeting people which one would usually not come across. Even though many people have stickers, she explains that there is a difference between active and passive participation in Pumpipumpe. The passive participation, having the stickers on the mailbox, is much more spread, as it is positively connotated to share your goods with people. The active part, ringing at people's doors to lend something needs more courage, as it is negatively connotated to ask people for something and shows that one might not have all they need. Changes take time, but Pumpipumpe actively tries to contribute its part to increasing sharing in local neighborhoods.
I: Welcome Lisa Ochsenbein. Maybe you can start by briefly explaining what Pumpipumpe is and how it works?
P: Pumpipumpe is an initiative for more vibrant neighborhoods and a more conscious use of our consumer goods that we often use little or rarely. There is a statistic that a drill is used 13 minutes in its life, the rest of the time it is not used before it is disposed, often not even recycled properly, exactly and that was the starting point to this project. The project is a sharing community that works like this, you can order stickers from us, sticker sheets with different objects. These stickers you then stick to the mailbox to show the neighbors I have a drill, I have a ladder, I have a blender, which I do not often need, you are welcome to borrow them from me when you need them. But in the meantime, we also have an online map where you can put in what you have. Depending on what people activated you can write to people. So we also developed it further into the digital. But the sticker approach is still the main thing with us. We wanted to make a sharing project that addresses the immediate neighborhood with all the different people and yes, there are a few who are already actively interested in sharing and are digitally savvy enough that they are already registered with some platforms. It was really a very simple approach to make, which is present in everyday life, which you pass by every day. To be confronted with this invitation to question one's own consumer behavior, to see other possibilities, to use things instead of owning them. Yes, even across ages and languages. The idea is to activate local, real networks. Diverse networks. Compared to the digital platform, where similar people meet, who maybe don't live together spatially. That was our approach. This cannot be replaced with the digital approach. Even if the digital world also provides opportunities and exciting tools.
I: How well is it received and does it function in the way you conceptualized the project?
The question is always, what is the function of the project: one is really to share with each other and to use things collectively, to consume less etc. And the other is also, a very important aspect of our project, the communicative effect, that you make things that are there, which could be used differently, visible, that you initiate this discussion first. There are three different types of users, those who participate out of ecological reasons, people who want to get to know their neighbors, and then there are also people who want to save money. All of which have their justification and all of which are also common among the people who join Pumpipumpe. And, there is a difference between active and passive participation in Pumpipumpe. The passive participation, having the stickers on the mailbox, is much more spread, as it is positively connotated to share your goods with people. The active part, ringing at people's doors to lend something needs more courage, as it is negatively connotated to ask people for something and shows that one might not have all they need. I have the feeling that under different conditions, much more could be shared. There needs to be a different consumer behavior. If I realize that there are three blenders in my immediate neighborhood and I need one every two months, the likelihood that I can use one is big, and I no longer buy a new one. This change simply takes time.
I: What does Pumpipumpe contribute to the sustainability of Zürich?
P: I think it's like, I don't know if you know the Transition Zürich site, I think it's quite important that there are quite different things you can do that you might enjoy. For example, at Pumpipumpe, when you come into contact with neighbors and get to know them, it might also lead to more than just exchanging a drill, at least that's what we hope. That it contributes something to the fact that you realize, aha, I can shape my environment myself with simple, small things enormously. How I interact with my belongings, but also with my environment. There is actually a lot that you can discover. Be it neighbors, the initiative, new ways to consume. I think it's like a little building block, among quite a lot of other initiatives, that makes that ... climate change is such an overwhelming issue, Pumpipumpe provides a small tool to make something out of that is positive for you directly, but also for the future.
I: Our website is also about portraying opinions of individuals, so it would be interesting to hear what sustainability is for you?
P: Oh, that's such a big term. I recently gave a lecture on sharing, co-consumption, within a big event where there were 19 workshops on textures of sustainability. This is such a big topic, you have to ask yourself, consider ecological, but also social sustainability. I think basically you can define it in a way that you link the present to the future, in thinking. That you think about what effects your actions have now and what potential they have for the future. Whether on a social or ecological level, that you change perspectives from right now to what will actually happen in 5 or 10 years. What does an action mean for all actions that come afterwards.
I: What do you wish for the future of Pumpipumpe?
P: That we can implement all these things that we would still like to develop. It's always a bit difficult with projects when you're not commercially oriented. And of course, having a lot more people participate. That peer-to-peer sharing is seen as a way to use things more consciously and experience that you don't have to own everything. That just local, real networks are becoming stronger, because they have huge potential and we actually use them very little, compared to digital, where you can connect worldwide, but mostly people you like and ads tailored to you. It's also a bubble issue, which can be deceptive. That's why it's quite important for us that different people get in touch with each other, what you don't really find in the digital world. You have this chance very well in the real neighborhood. The more people join in, the better it works. It's like Mobility, when there are only two cars in the whole city, it doesn't work. But if there is a Mobility in front of every few houses, it works better. It needs like a critical mass that it can really make a difference.
I: What do you think, in Zürich, how far along are we in this change?
P: It just depends, there is again the danger that you move too much in a bubble. When you sit at a Transition Zürich event you think, ah yeah there are so many people involved in projects and so much is being done. And at the same time, when you walk around downtown or in a supermarket and see what is being consumed, it speaks a very different picture. I think there is a lot of upside potential in terms of what you can still do, and at the same time there are also an enormous number of exciting projects and, if you want, an enormous number of exciting possibilities for how you can live sustainably.