Overcoming Obstacles and Disincentives
to Climate Change Mitigation:
A cross-cutting approach by human and social sciences
Mutualization or pooling, what is it ?
There’s strength in numbers, and mutualization or pooling is a concrete expression of this principle. It is the action of pooling resources, goods, tools, etc., with economic or ecological objectives in mind. For example, it can be cheaper to rent a good screwdriver, or other objects and utensils you rarely use, than to buy them individually. At the same time, it’s also better for the environment and the preservation of resources: a single object benefits several users, reducing overproduction and its consequences, such as increased greenhouse gas emissions and pollution.
The principle of pooling has long been the basis in insurance processes, such as risk pooling. An insurance company’s job is to spread the cost of a claim among individuals potentially exposed to the same risk. The insurer periodically collects premiums from all policyholders and uses them to compensate those who have actually suffered a loss.
Banks are based on the same principle. Banks pool everyone’s savings, offering savers a range of benefits and services. In this respect, banks are the realization of the principle of collective savings.
To widen the view, recent studies have also highlighted processes of mutualization between other living organisms: nature is not just a place of competition, there are sometimes surprising forms of collaboration and symbiosis. An example is the “Wood wide web”, the underground network created by fungi joining with plant roots in forests and other plant communities. The relations of fungi and plants are most commonly mutualistic, with all different partners benefiting.
In our daily lives, we often come across only one example of mutualization, that of libraries for books. But today, we’re starting to share other things, like bikes or “shared” cars, and then lots of other objects, like sound systems, sewing machines and… screwdrivers! And there are still plenty of other objects and resources to be invented.
Object libraries, which are developing rapidly around the world, apply the principle of mutualization or pooling to objects and tools, and help to limit expenditure and over-consumption.