Fritidsbanken Umeå - a sharing service with environmental impact
City/Region : Umeå kommun , Sweden

Fritidsbanken Umeå is a public library for sports-equipment, toys and leisure items. Here you can borrow equipment for active leisure, such as skis, skates, rollerblades, life jackets, snowboards and more. We also supply equipment in parasport. The lending period is 14 days.

The idea came from a clergyman who saw that parents called in their children sick when the school had sport outings because they could not equip them properly. Since then the concept has spread throughout Sweden and today there are 89 Fritidsbanken libraries.

* Everyone can borrow
* Everything is free of charge
* Focus on the environment

EU Green Deal Policy Areas Addressed
Clean energyFrom Farm to ForkSustainable industry
Pathways followed
  • Ensure equal access to municipal services
  • Involve citizens through participatory implementation
  • Encourage local private and civic engagement
  • Promote social innovation supporting inclusion
  • Nurture a sharing economy
  • Capitalise on local economy and production
  • Create and close local value chains
  • Apply innovative financing approaches
  • Pursue a shift towards a circular economy
  • Wisely select and apply smart technologies
  • Ensure new policies take socio-cultural changes resulting from innovative technologies into account
Fritidsbanken Umeå

In Sweden one in every twelfth child grows up in a family with very large debts or even in risk of bankruptcy, that is more than 183 000 children who cannot participate on equal terms with their classmates, neighbours or relatives.

Fritidsbanken Umeå collects and receives used sports items from private donors, local companies and public sources. The items are repaired, if necessary, catalogued and offered to individuals to borrow. It is common for student groups or schools to contact Fritidsbanken in preparation for events or outings. Fritidsbanken facilitate possibilities (work or volunteer) for unemployed, immigrants and/or individuals with disabilities to participate in our sharing service.

Through the sharing services of Fritidsbanken we support the community in various ways:
• Everyone can participate
• An active spare-time is good for your health
• Finding new ways into sports and activities
• Integration in our community
• Collaborative economy
• Lower consumption
• Create working possibilities
• Environmental benefits

In Action
Fritidsbanken Umeå

Fritidsbanken rests on four pillars:
• The library
• Holiday activities
• Events
• Parasport

The library is open five days a week, located in an area with high population of immigrants and people with economic challenges. You can borrow sports equipment and toys regardless of weather or season and keep them for two weeks. The staff is both employees and volunteers. We provide internships and possibilities for job training.

Holiday activities are depending on season and weather therefore we try to meet children on school holidays near their regular school and at different sports venues like ski slopes or football fields. We bring appropriate sports gear and they can borrow what they need for the day and return it before they go home. During the summer a coordinator works to manage extra employees (students and older schoolkids) who help to arrange tours. The tour covers the whole municipality (approx 5 277 km²) and all sorts of activities from beach activities to indoor sports and a lot of equipment for play and games. Events are arranged by our initiative or in connection with other enterprises like festivals or community happenings. (more info, see attachment)

Parasport equipment is, since February 2019, our fourth function which differs a little from our regular sharing service since we supply items all over the Västerbotten Region (approx 55 432 km²). 

Fritidsbanken Umeå opened in April of 2018 as the 67th Fritidsbank in Sweden. By August the same year it was named “The best Fritidsbanken in Sweden” due to our success in reaching the community with our sharing service.

It has 3 full time employees, 7 in job training, 10 volunteers and 12 in summer jobs. The national average number of volunteers is 1.68 but in Umeå the average since opening date is 9.0 volunteers.

During the first year, i.e. eight months, we recorded 14 612 individual loans which can be compared to the second largest Fritidsbanken which had 10 000 individual loans in 2018.
Deputy Mayor of Umeå Janet Ågren said at the first OECD Roundtable on the Circular Economy in Cities and Regions (4 July 2019): “Fritidsbanken Umeå is a good example of a circular hot spot in our society. Fritidsbanken is a place where people can borrow everything they need for an active spare time with no charge. It contributes not only positively to the environment but also to the social cohesion of our city. (…)"


To identify some results of Fritidsbanken we engaged Sara Bromark and Fanny Sjölander, Umeå School of business, economics and statistics wrote the thesis “Is it free to borrow? A study of motivation for and result from participation in the non-commercial sharing service Fritidsbanken.”

Collaborative economics is a phenomenon that has risen in the last few years and is promoted as an alternative and sustainable solution for the market to prevent overconsumption. Fritidsbanken Umeå was studied as an example of collaborative economics and to evaluate the economic, social and environmental motivational factors.

An inquiry gave 264 answers and the results showed that the factors ’economy’ and ’social’ were the strongest motivational factors. It showed that the borrowers who were motivated by environmental factors were most satisfied with the sharing service. The service was also beneficial to increasing physical activity as well as environmental awareness in the individual borrower.

In the summer of 2018 Fritidsbanken went on tour with the purpose of making the service known and support an active leisure-time for everyone in the community.
The evaluation showed that 4527 items were shared during a six weeks period, circa 50 percent of the persons using the items were 12 years old or younger and equally distributed between the genders.

The key issues learned from the tour are:
• Flexibility – weather is a key factor in what type of equipment people like to borrow.
• Other arrangements – availability before and after youth camps arranged by other organisations was beneficial for the sharing service. Of course, in full cooperation with the arranging organisation.
• Motivation – people working in the sharing service were included in all aspects of the tour. Weekly assessments were made on individual and organisational level and discussed with the workforce.
• We always left our pop-up place cleaner than when we arrived.


The impact on the local society since the start in April of 2018 can be summarized in:
*8 employees where of 5 was neither born in Sweden or spoke swedish as their native language.
*1 of the 8 was on disability-leave.
*10 people have been on job training to assess their capacity for work. One of them is now employed by Fritidsbanken Umeå.
*24 short-term jobs during the summer were facilitated where of 9 employees were neither born in Sweden or had Swedish as their native language.
*19 volunteers have supported Fritidsbanken in place or on tour.

During the first year, i.e. 8 months, we recorded 14 612 individual loans which can be compared to the second largest Fritidsbanken which had 10 000 individual loans during 12 months of 2018 and had been open for 6 years.

Since Fritidsbanken Umeå opened in April of 2018 33 294 separate items on loan has been recorded (as of 10th of July 2019). The total number of persons lending equipment during the same period is 13 318, which translates to 951 persons per month or 232 individuals per week. Compared to the population in Umeå municipality, it means that more than ten percent uses the service.

Fritidsbanken Umeå shows an average of 14 612 loans per year, the average annual number of loans for Fritidsbanken in Sweden is 1 900. It has 6 000 items in stock compared to the national average of 1 802 items.

Fritidsbanken Umeå was presented as a highlight at by Janet Ågren, Deputy Mayor, on the topic Session I: The circular economy in cities and regions: a transformative path

Challenges and lessons learned

* Finding the right premises for our sharing service. The venue needs to be close to areas with young people/students, preferably close to campus with sports fields or other areas for outdoor activities. Also, closeness to community services and volunteer organisations is important.
• The cooperation with schools and NGOs is key to our success. Both concerning the lending of items and receiving new equipment to repair and lend.
• Commitment – from our volunteers, workers (long and short term), lenders and the community around us. To be persistent and believe in the idea even if weather, premises or funding is not ideal.



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