Most of you know that I started Kotes by Kobe because I wanted to use my spare hair to keep other pups warm, but until now I haven’t given much thought to what ‘spare’ really means. I’m thinking about it now in the midst of coronavirus-induced panic buying, as people hoard everything from food to toilet paper to medicines. The idea of ‘getting a spare’ no longer seems to denote getting one or two extra items in case of emergency, but rather the wanton procurement of everything one can possibly get their hands on.

What exactly does spare mean to you? Merriam-Webster defines it as “being over and above what is needed” – exactly how I would describe the hair donated by many kind pups to my business. Having either fallen off of us, or been brushed or clipped off during grooming, this hair is clearly of no further use to the dogs whom it once adorned. If something is no longer needed or useful, why hold onto it? Why not make it available to someone who does need it?

Of course there’s merit in having something backups in case of emergency, much like the proverbial spare tyre, but how many spare tyres does a car come with? There’s no set definition of what constitutes a reasonable amount of backup, and the line between sensible and moronic can be blurry at times, but surely everyone should reach a point where they recognise that they have too much, and that what they have would be better utilised elsewhere. Shouldn’t they?

Though it’s hard now to think of anything outside the context of the coronavirus right now, this applies broadly across all of life. So many of the world’s problems stem from the inequity of a small number of people having more than they’ll ever know what to do with and a much larger number clamouring for what’s left. Whether this is money, property, food, toilet paper, or any other commodity, society seems set up to encourage those who have means to keep acquiring more, while those who do not struggle and struggle. Did greed evolve from modern economics or were the rules of economics set by those predisposed to building personal wealth?

Of course, stories also abound of those who give generously, so the spirit of benevolence still flows through the world. From donations of money and resources, to sharing of precious toilet paper rolls, and yes even to hair that can make more Kotes to keep other pups warm, what connects these highly diverse benefactors is the recognition that someone else would benefit from what they have and the willingness to give it up.

The world needs more of that compassion. We need more widespread conviction that it’s unacceptable not to give to others when we have more than enough for ourselves. The world’s a happier place when we take care of each other. There’s nothing wrong with having a little extra for ourselves, but let’s all remember that the very definition of spare means it is not something we need.

Unless, of course, you’re talking about spare ribs. That’s a whole different story.