The End of Ownership

2015, Technology  -   25 Comments
Storyline

The birth of highly sustainable energy sources and other resources presents a double edged sword for the business sector. A company can remain vital and viable if the products they sell represent the cutting edge of technological advancement, but that same innovative spirit can also spell disaster for their bottom line. Businesses don't want you to buy a single light bulb that can burn throughout your lifetime; they want you to buy many light bulbs over the course of your life. Therefore, the development and ultimate success of sustainable products requires a new economic model. The End of Ownership follows architect Thomas Rau as he puts one such model into motion.

Shortly after Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, a committee gathered to assess the economic feasibility of such a product. They decided to maximize their profitability by manufacturing the light bulb to burn at no more than 1,000 hours. By imposing limitations on the performance of the bulb, they ensured that many more bulbs could be sold. In Rau's view, their decision also created an environment rife with waste that placed an unnecessary burden on the consumer.

Rau approached the Phillips technology company with a proposal: produce lighting solutions that work for the consumer, and assume the power costs as their own. In theory, the benefits of such an approach would be desirable for the consumer, the business, and the environment. The consumer essentially pays a rental fee for their lighting. Since the company is footing the electric bill, the product they provide is carefully designed to operate with extreme ease and efficiency to keep costs low. Currently, the program is rolling out across the business sector, and is resulting in astronomical energy savings for all involved.

Rau's provocative new economic energy model has additional applications beyond the light bulb. The public housing sector has expressed interest in creating more efficient appliances throughout their properties as a means of saving money for their tenants.

The End of Ownership is an invigorating look at a potential future that can work better for all of us. Most valuably, it exposes a troubling current that runs through our modern culture: the things we own have a tendency to own us.

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Ratings: 8.86/10from 238 users.

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25 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Jose

    WOW... He invented what is basically Rent A Center.... Dont buy it rent it, and in 2 years you could have bought it 2 times over!!! and the second part is called Recycling...Is that a new concept....video is a waste... He wants MFG to be the Rent A Center instead...You think companies are all going to start Install, Service and Repair, and then removal and recycling...think of the logistics......no way...

  2. Mate

    This is quite interesting. It's refreshing to see that someone cares and potential solutions are being considered. Unfortunately, I can't stop thinking that the most powerful entities in the world are the makers of the 1000 hour light bulbs and they are not going to change their approach voluntarily to loose money. I conclude the world is going to continue wasting it's resources and adapting to other resources until it becomes cheaper to recycle the waste. Weather we like it or not humanity will have to relay on 100 % recycled material eventually. At that point the author's vision will be the best choice but by then it'll be too late for the environment to recuperate and achieve a balance with nature. I guess the overall selfish position for humanity is "don't live resources for others to enjoy if you are going to die anyways".

    By the same token we think " don't leave resources left on earth if the Sun is going to engulf it anyways". If a service based economy makes more sense than a product based economy why aren't these companies becoming the leaders in their sectors? If you want to make money today invest in pharmaceuticals, retailers, technology, etc.... Where is the company I can invest on today that partners with appliance manufacturers and sells you "The services" that will pay for maintenance, replacement and even the electric bill?

    The closest thing to that concept is an insurance company and that does not solve the problem of waste. On the contrary, they will quickly say your item is totaled so they can justify higher premiums. The economy is not designed to recycle and it won't be until the conditions no longer allow it. Make peace with the fact that earth is never going to be what it once was. Even without humans earth will continue changing. Do not put the blame on our leaders. They are only a reflection of the masses. It's the small changes each individual makes that generate positive changes. It's an illusion to think changes will happen from the top to the bottom.

    They happen at the bottom with each individual first, that leads to changes for the masses and during elections and then, the right person changes at the top. The one responsible for the conditions we live today is our complicity, denial and unwillingness to adopt an inconvenient life stile. We claim that about half of us are environmentally responsible but when you step out on the street everybody is burning fuel. How come half of them are not riding bicycles?! How come half of the people do not produce their own power?! and grow our own food? We're all in denial claiming the higher moral ground when in reality we are part of the problem just as much.

  3. novarum

    Earth as a self-contained spaceship - why not expand for the whole universe? Why not look from the other perspective of the 1968 picture, that being a opening to a much to explore future? So, assuming there is a future for mankind, when the Sun in a "couple" of years turns into a big red star and engulfs the Earth, we tell her, hold on our materials have rights you are not supposed to scorch them? Or do have we left Earth long before and found refuge somewhere else?

  4. ZAlbia

    @GrahamKelly, I'm genuinely interested why you said the first sentence. Can you share your thoughts on why?

  5. Graham Kelly

    Pompous, pretentious, naive and dangerous thought process with potentially lethal long term consequences. A+ on virtue signalling to search for peer recognition though.

  6. Rakesh kasba

    As per Bhagwat Gita, the responsibility of taking the right path lies with the Learned because others will follow them. So what are we educated and well to do citizens of the world waiting for; all those who understand the concept of this movie must start action, maybe in the samllest way but we must start. aatinhomes.com

  7. Imighberiding

    Interesting concept. I can easily see applications of this idea of reversal working in a commercial setting i.e.: office buildings. It could even work in low income housing. It will never work in a residential sense for the middle-income or wealthy because it provides nothing of individuality. That is unless there are different levels available that one can choose to rent. Still not enough individuality. There will always be collectors & those who like antique fixtures. The same goes for automobiles.

  8. marios

    I would like to answer to J
    this model can work perfectly in businesses for all the professional equipment not just lights
    new house complexes can be made following the rules of this concept and the rent should include the use of the whole equipment
    if a consumer breaks the product then he will have to loose some type of deposit payed at the start of the agreement
    you dont need to own a single object in life that has decreasing value with time

    if the consumer breaks the product he can p

  9. Mr Organic

    I think this is a wonderful idea. It requires some more points/question though.........
    I dont get what the point is in sending back a say, fridge (or any product) after a certain time period (ie 8 years).....If it is intended to be manufactured to last say a hundred years, why not keep it longer. It would be an added incentive for manufacturers to design the style and durability to last for as long as possible. Ok, if you fancy a change after the agreed term, fine, but if you love your fridge so much that you end up keeping it for another extra 15 years, then the company get a much grater return on investment, therefor encouraging the highest quality that is achievable in its manufacture in the first place.
    Also, this wouldnt stop you from being able to buy outright, you would just pay a higher price to do so im guessing.
    Lastly, not sure hoew the fridge company pays for the electric bill. I would imagine that you would have 30 different rented product using the electric, so how do they split...?
    I imagine that the price of the product materials, profit and electric ect is incorporated into the monthly payment...?

    This new economic model doesnt have to be the end game, but a 'bridge' to a resource based economy.

    Great idea.....

  10. Professor Winch

    Makes a lot of sense

  11. Forest

    This was an excellent documentary. Some of the commenters above are a bit harsh. Can you really expect him to tell you all the solutions to every problem in this little clip? Here is someone thinking independently and following their true path. I don't agree with everything he says, but his sincerity and confidence is what gives him the power to capitvate your attention and get you thinking with your higher mind. Humanity is unbelievably bent on it's current path and does not know it's limits. It's important for us all to focus on positive outcomes. You religious people can call it praying. You scientists can call it hope. It's the same thing and it works.

    What I found really interesting is that almost everything he said was covered in a brilliant Dutch book written in the 60's called Iarga. Except in that book this information is given to us from extraterrestrials.

  12. Mark

    I don't think that this model would work well in practice, as profits would invariably come before offering good service (when offering a good service would not be cost effective to a service provider).

    When I was renting accommodation, there were often times when there were problems with the boiler, electric or other general maintenance issues. In each instance the landlord/ agency decided to opt for cheap short term fixes, which saved them some money but meant that the problem would re-occur at some point.

    Additionally, if these problems occurred on a weekend, the agency would be unwilling to send someone until office hours on a weekday - which on one occasion meant being without heating, hot water or electricity (in winter) from Friday evening until Monday (which I had to take off work), only to be told that he needed parts and would be back on Friday! So a whole week where I had to make alternative living arrangements while still being legally obligated to pay (high) rent for that apartment.

    A service provided will always care primarily about the bottom line, the welfare and quality of service provided will not be a top priority if they would adversely affect profits. As an individual I would rather pay whatever the price to have the problem fixed properly the first time and ASAP, but a service provider will only want to do it in the cheapest way possible (irrespective of the effects on the customer).

  13. Psyintz

    Wait, so you mean... with renewable energy, some of the richest, most greedy ******** on the planet might actually lose some power? And some of the lower to middle class people who actually want to work hard for their money might find some job openings? Yeah well, anybody who knows the American government and/or (economic) politics knows that such a great idea could never come to pass. God forbid anything take away from the "ultra elite" and mess with their fraudulent pockets. Not a chance.

  14. Marko

    My first impression is: exciting, promising, provocative, may be I'm witnessing a whole new philosophy being born...
    We all know we are doing it all wrong nowadays - we consume too much, we waste too much, we know many resources are at its limit but still it seems we don't really care...
    I'll be watching the movie again later today with my kids and we'll be talking about the challenges of the near and distant future. Thank you Mr. Rau for your great ideas! There is always hope :)

    My answers to questions from J:
    "- What happens when a consumer breaks his rented product? Who is held responsible for the repair? How can a manufacturer proof who is responsible?"
    It stays like it is now with manufacturer's warranty - no need to change! When you break it you pay the repair.

    "- Do we have to pay monthly for all the items we have in our home, which ironically is also rented?"
    You pay for what you want to use - everything is a service. You will not pay of course for all things that you already own :)

    "- When an item is not yours, a manufacturer could just take item(s) away from you."
    Really? Like cutting your electricity or internet just like that because they don't need anymore a customer who is willing to pay?

  15. Ralph

    Profit is not a dirty word, usury is.

  16. Roger

    Comprehensive education and the freedom of information are the keys to individual independence, not some new rent based economic system. This video should be re-titled "Pie in the Sky". The video contains ideas based on good intentions that are ignorant of reality.

  17. Mathias

    Interesting! This defiantly put the ball on the other team, may be a good transition to an open source economy/ or a resource based economy because in the long run is it not the goal to be independent and free from "addictions"/contracts. If we can manufacture almost all our needs our self and produce our own energy then it would not be necessary to have companies doing it for you, of course we are not there yet but it´s getting closer every day.

  18. Bob

    The issue I had with this model is that it doesn't solve anything other than creating environmentally friendly products, that is it. Retailers will make business deals with its competitors to gouge the s@!t out of their consumers. We currently have this service model with cable TV, internet, and phones. Cool idea in a perfect world but in this one... price gouging.

  19. J

    If you're from the Netherlands, you could view the original version of this documentary on the website of VPRO Tegenlicht as "Einde van bezit".

    A big part of this documentary is the man explaining why we need to switch to a sustainable way of production rather than explaining his plan.
    While this man, Thomas Rau, does propose a new way of forcing the production of sustainable products, it is far from the solution. The philosophy of buying or renting the function of a product can only be applied to a handful amount of products, such as washing machines, fridges and light bulbs.

    The questions & flaws:
    - What happens when a consumer breaks his rented product? Who is held responsible for the repair? How can a manufacturer proof who is responsible?
    - Do we have to pay monthly for all the items we have in our home, which ironically is also rented?
    - When an item is not yours, a manufacturer could just take item(s) away from you.

    A solution that seems to have way more potential to me, is fundamentally CHANGING the way consumers WANT sustainable items. Consumers should boycott items that have a short lifespan by not buying them. This will force manufacturers to produce quality products that the consumer will buy.

  20. Bobtijs Bruinsma-Postema

    Why not available for viewing in the Netherlands ????

  21. Aaron

    This documentary definitely opened my mind to possibilities for the future. I have learned about so many great things that have been suppressed from humanity such as Nikola Tesla's work as well as Wilhelm Reich. One concern that I do have about this is in regards to psychopathic tendencies that corporations sometimes express. The mental health of humanity as a whole is very poor and unless we can heal within, this idea just like all other great ideas will be wasted based on psychopaths being in control of all industries including government.

  22. sam

    Planned Obsolescence at its finest.

  23. Ralph

    This man is certainly an original thinker and quite brilliant as well. Philosophically, I'm pretty sure he is on the right track. This video should be mandatory for anyone working on an MBA.

  24. Pamela

    But not the end of profit, evidently!! This is a huge nasty shitfly in this "solution."

  25. jerry majors

    Now that's a great documentary. Maybe there is hope for mankind , or is it to late?