Is it possible to break down the conventional, western pattern of consumption and usher in a different model with huge social, economic and environmental potential? We take a look at collaborative consumption.
Christmas is the season for churning out consumer goods. Think about it, how many times have you bought or been given stuff that you don’t use at all? Of course, you can “re-gift” them to friends and neighbors. But how about reaching out to a bigger network nationally or even globally?
Turning from an ownership society to a sharing society
Thanks to the internet-era and our love of sharing via social networks, together, entire communities and cities around the world can use network technologies to do more with less by renting, lending, swapping, gifting and sharing goods on a scale never before possible. The collaborative consumption space has grown rapidly over the past years; studies show that there has been a growing willingness to take part in various examples of collaborative consumption, especially among the young.
There are thousands of services and sites out there to help you share household goods, cars, rides, meals, gardens, accommodation, and skills. Initiatives such as Collaborative Consumption.com is an on-line resource for sustainable consumption worldwide. Innovative spirit can be found in start-ups such as foodsharing.de based in Germany, an online community which aims to address the huge amount of food wastage in the country. The philosophy behind it is simple: ‘People share food. There should be no exchange of money, as sharing has an ethical dimension’. They have already saved more than 4500 kilos of food from the rubbish heap.
The idea of sharing goods at a community level emerged years ago in Hong Kong, a city known as a ‘shopping paradise’ and for its culture of consumption. Tradeduck.com was the first online exchange platform that enabled people to exchange secondhand goods. Jojoduck is another website for members to rent various goods on a daily basis, which is convenient for people who maybe need a luxurious handbag or party dress just for a one-night event.
Sharing things bolsters meaningful connections
In modern society with families scattered and not knowing your neighbour being the norm, the real benefits of sharing goods can build great social connections, as you can reach out to people you don’t know and and may even be encouraged to pay more attention to people in need, whether it be a stranger on the street or homeless person. ‘Peer-to peer sharing involves the re-emergence of community,’ says Rachel Botsman, the co-author of What’s Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption.
Sharing instead of owning can be smart. Why not step up to the challenge?