The End of Ownership

The End of Ownership

2015, Technology  -   42 Comments
Ratings: 8.58/10 from 258 users.

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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42 Comments / User Reviews

  1. LEAH

    I'm not finding this documentary/movie?

  2. LEAH X

    I'm looking for documentary /movie, surving to be rich. about young black man body found in the mohiva desert in California?

  3. Mietta

    So why do we own things now, instead of simply walking down to the local Rent-a-Vision and just renting out all appliances and then selling off the car and the home and renting those as well? Because most of us are smart enough not to get caught up in that permanent trap. This system would have you in the same position at 60 as you were at 20! Also, if consumers no longer own anything, then why would manufacturers want to? Ah, yes, because they can charge us over and over our entire lives and we will forever be needing their 'service' that we didn't need before! This feels more like a scam to rip off the consumer further, rather than a way to make our lives better because it will definitely cost the consumer more than if they just purchased the item once. Also, if I get a good deal on a quality item, I only buy it once, but if I decide to upgrade my 'service', then I will be paying for the rest of my life. I really don't see how this is a good long term solution, it will just turn us into smirfs, never able to get off the rental merry go round and forever indebted to our masters who can take their stuff back anytime. If you lose your job or have any other financial loss or unexpected event, you will also lose your fridge, your TV, car and whatever else if you can't make your monthly payments, repossession for you. Plus, you can't pass on your possessions in a will or inherit anything. Smacks of Marxism to me.

  4. Bug

    Dumbest sh*t i have listened to all year. The average family would have to hire a personal accountant just to keep all of their rent bills organized and insure they all get paid each month. You would have a TV bill, internet bill, stove bill, fridge bill, light bill, heat bill, water bill, stove bill, house bill, garage opener bill, toilet bill, shower bill, vaccuum cleaner bill, snow blower bill, silverware bill, bed bill, clothing bill, dishwasher bill, lawnmower bill, ect.... beyond completely rediculous.

    1. GGGG

      Does your accountant manages to keep up with the amount of face palm reactions you are getting?

  5. David

    Interesting concept and may work well until you come to an individual who wants something different. This concept seems Marxist in it's desired to "centralize" everything and eliminate personal property.

    1. NotGlobalist

      Welcome to World Economic Forum, that dictate all these changes on 2015 they did became quite vocal, after Bill announced at 2015 todays pandemic..It is not late stage Capitalism, it is early stages of raw Marxism - pharmaceutical dictatorship, and centralized governance. You will not own a car. State will tell you what you will be given, or to save for 10 years with your miserable, guaranteed income, that will allow to eat and ride your bicycle, clothing that you wear will be second hand hand me down clothing. Your vacation will need to be approved environmental bureau that will have say, if you are eligible to make a flight with airplane once in 5-10 years, also bring your Vaccination card, as cattle you need to be vaccinated for Covid 2021,2023, 2024...These vaccines will make you sterile and sick more, but as it is today, god forbid you go against "Science Cult" and question wonderful vaccines.
      This is part of UN Agenda 2030 and people still are having cognitive dissonance to understand that this will HAPPEN in front of their noses, while looking into their cellphones. And will be painful for middle class and poor, while wealthy will not miss a beat. Enjoy the future or lack of personal freedoms. We will be breeded and herded as cattle is.

  6. Jonathan

    A good show. But not everything should be designed to last forever. Steel is the most commonly re-cycled material. But plastics are gaining. Food and cigarettes are one time use items. No re-cycling there. Drugs cannot be recycled, norcan the majority of items. How can medical waste, which is typically made for one use and made of plastic be recycled? One of the best recyclers known was Eli Whitney, he made rifles with interchangeable parts. Before his idea, each rifle was custom made. Why not just give a website for each item sold and show the replacement parts and how to obtain them at the lowest possible cost. (not by FedEx, UPS, or post office). Have an "Exchange" where anyone could buy a part for anything put together with fasteners( and unless its been carved, almost everything is put together with some kin d of fastener).

  7. Tom

    Light bulbs that don't last forever provide jobs for people.

    1. Thomas

      They could have had better jobs paid for with the money not used to by another light bulb because your's broke even though it didn't need to.

  8. 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 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 way...

  9. 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.

  10. 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?

    1. Thomas

      Your comment is on another level which kind of makes it irrelevent to the current day to day problems of mankind. It's too long term. It's like saying you are going to be dust one day so why live. Or whatever you do is meaningless cause of the eventual end of the universe so why do it at all.

      Earth should be preserved as it is the only place we have right now. Not until we have like a 1000 liveable planets can we really start forgetting about the original one, if even then.

  11. ZAlbia

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

  12. 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.

    1. Anthony Fitzgerald

      That's a very narrow-minded reaction. It's a man wrestling with original ideas as mankind has done for a 100,000 years. How do you think we continue to develop. You can argue with the thoughts but not the process of thought. You made your judgement from your previously conceived thoughts that could conceivably be described as pompous, naive and bigoted as well, but we'll never know because you offer nothing original but abuse

  13. 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.

    1. Ahimsa Ishaya

      Well said.

  14. 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.

  15. 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

  16. 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.....

  17. Professor Winch

    Makes a lot of sense

  18. 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.

  19. 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).

    1. Dave

      Legislation needs to passed whereby if the service provider doesn't repair the product i.e. fridge in a certain time frame the service provider will have to A. Pay for any loss in costs to the customer i.e. food going off + a hefty fine (a loss of 1 month of product rent) . This is currently policy of business ISP's when internet is down for certain period of time they compensate the customer.
      Capitalism is dying, we are moving to a shared/resource based economy. Read "The Third Industrial Revolution" by Jeremy Rifkin

  20. 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.

    1. Praxology

      So HOW exactly do these 'Elites' stop me from developing a Comprehensive and Inclusive ideology based on the phenomena of material science,

      in order to develop worldwide international consensus about the Requirements, needs, and wants of individuals at each level of their development, partners, families, groups, institutions, and nations so that solidarity can be recognized among the 'Human Condition' and Society can organize a civilization of conscious individuals via productive activities?

      Yes it will require awareness,
      Yes Transforming Society will require application of knowledge in effective ways,
      Yes it will require people to be persistent and NOT to give up on one another,
      NOR give in to illogical forms of the Dominant Society's Culture of distortion and False Consciousness which perpetuates Economic Exploitation,
      Yes it will require SHARING despite the Risks that activity entails—however Sharing leads to recognition, understanding, and coordination of efforts to create a better Society together.

  21. 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?

  22. Ralph

    Profit is not a dirty word, usury is.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

    1. Praxology

      Let's organize Economic Boycotts - as this is the only thing these Imperiali$t$ listen to

    2. Praxology

      Economic Boycotts

  27. Bobtijs Bruinsma-Postema

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

  28. 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.

  29. sam

    Planned Obsolescence at its finest.

  30. 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.

  31. Pamela

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

  32. jerry majors

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