…for people and the planet!
Living in a resource-constrained world where we consume so much stuff, the case for sharing that stuff should be evident. And it is indeed becoming evident for a growing number of people as they realize that the urge to own is not what it’s all cracked up to be. In fact, people are more interested in “owning” (or receiving) an experience or the functionality that stuff delivers. Rachel Botsman and Roo Rorgers makes a strong case for this in their book “What’s Mine is Yours: the Case for Collaborative Consumption” (or if you prefer a 15 minute version, check out Rachel Botsman’s Ted Talk).
Sharing or exchanging goods without exchanging money is not a new concept but it is making a resurgence, primarily because it is now so easy to connect with people all over the world. It saves resources thereby helping reduce our impact on the environment (whether it’s in the extraction of materials, saving energy use for this extraction then transport, reducing the amount of waste ending in landfills…) but also helping us save money (which let’s be honest, in this economic climate, is more than welcome!)
There are of course the well-known bike sharing, car sharing schemes which are appearing around the globe. But numerous initiatives are popping up through Internet platforms which facilitates peer-to-peer selling or sharing. Here are some examples (though they are plenty more out there):
- Neighborgoods: described by one user as the best thing since sliced bread, Neighrborgoods allows people within a community to share useful stuff – “Need a ladder? Borrow it from your neighbor. Have a bike collecting dust in your closet? Lend it out and make a new friend”
- Freecycle: a network of thousands of local groups in different locations, willing to give away stuff completely free that they intend to get rid off. Giving things a second life and preventing them from ending up in landfills. “By giving freely with no strings attached, members of The Freecycle Network help instill a sense of generosity of spirit as they strengthen local community ties and promote environmental sustainability and reuse. People from all walks of life have joined together to turn trash into treasure.”
- NeverLikedItAnyway: a place which allows you to get rid of emotional and physical baggage after a break-up.
- Couchsurfing: which is not just about lending your couch to a stranger… but really about exchanging hospitability – whether it is through the means of a couch, a meal or a free guided tour of your hometown.
While collaborative consumption may not necessarily be anything new, recent innovative models are changing the way we consume and interact with others. Perhaps the most significant message to take from this trend is the importance of collaboration if we are to achieve a sustainable world. Not only collaboration between consumers but everywhere, whether it is indeed people sharing a lawnmower, or businesses sharing intellectual property, or using one’s waste to create another’s product.
For more examples of these types of initiatives, visit this page on the Collaborative Consumption Hub.