If those nostalgic for the pre-digital age are to be believed, neighbors used to simply knock on a door to ask to borrow something, but now they’re too engrossed in their smartphone screen to even know who lives next door. To solve this problem and renew a sharing community spirit, Pumpipumpe is a Switzerland-based project that is encouraging residents to place stickers on their mailbox to denote the goods they’re willing to lend to their neighbors.
The idea was initially formed to enable those with bike pumps to indicate to fellow cyclists that they could knock and use theirs in the case of a flat tyre — hence the name Pumpipumpe. The scheme has since expanded into a system allow neighbors to advertise any object available to borrow. Those who want to take part can simply order a pack of stickers from the project’s website. Each sticker is a small blue square that features illustrations including a bike pump, lawn mower, kitchen scale, children’s toys, and even internet access and fancy dress costumes. The idea is that homeowners place the stickers for the items they have on their mailbox so passersby can know if they’re good to knock on the door. The stickers are free to anyone in Switzerland or Germany, with a EUR 4 fee for shipping internationally. While the idea aims to recreate the offline networks of old, the team is working on an interactive map of all the neighborhoods participating in the Pumpipumpe scheme.
Perhaps Switzerland is just a naturally friendly place, as we’ve already seen the Boîtes d’Échange Entre Voisins scheme create community boxes designed especially for leaving unwanted goods for others to pick up. But could this idea work in your part of the world?