What is the Sharing Economy?

sharing economy What is the Sharing Economy?
 

Do you find a never-ending list of things you need to buy?

 

Does it sometimes feel that your budget will never ever fit your needs?

 

Then maybe you should sit down and take a better look at the things you have in your closet and the rest of the house. Answer these questions honestly:

 

  • Do you have use for everything in your house?

  • Do you use these items just a few times a year?

  • Do you buy items because it was on sale even if you have no use for them now?

  • Do you buy items out of perceived need in the future?

  • Do SALES in general make you itch to buy the best deal?

If your answer is mostly YES then maybe that is why your budget keeps on shrinking.

 

Don’t worry, you are not alone. We are all victims of consumerism or the idea that an increased consumption of goods is economically desirable.

 

The good news is, there is a movement in the US, Europe, Australia and some other parts of the world to shift from a consumer market to a sharing one.

 

Some experts believe the idea of sharing started in online peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing of music and videos online (think Napster). A couple of  years ago, P2P websites worked underground like pirates. Although I am not in any way promoting piracy, P2P networks now somehow blossomed into other things that may be viewed as more practical and even altruistic.

 

The ripple:

 

People in this “movement” call it a sharing economy. Sharing economy is defined online as

 

“An economic model in which individuals are able to borrow or rent assets owned by someone else. The sharing economy model is most likely to be used when the price of a particular asset is high and the asset is not fully utilized all the time.”

 

This idea first started during a TedxSydney talk by Rachel Botsman in 2010. Ms. Botsman is author of the book “The Rise of Collaborative Consumption” Her most memorable, and borrowed line was about a power drill everyone owns

 

“That power drill will be used around 12 to 15 minutes in its entire lifetime… Why don’t you rent the drill? Or rent out your own drill to other people and make some money from it?”

 

This talk opened opportunities for startup companies and made a lot of media buzz.

 

So now,  people think of items as:

 

For rent

 

In the US and the UK, companies like Airbnb and Uber are two of the most valuable start ups in the world.

 

San Francisco startup Airbnb is like your regular bread and breakfast where you can rent a cheaper room for a trip. Only, Airbnb is online and you can book a place to stay in 190 countries and more than 34,000 cities around the world.

 

Uber on the other hand lets you get a taxi, rent or share a ride with cars that are in closest proximity to you. You can easily connect with the drivers through your mobile.

 

Although Uber met some hostility with traditional cabbies and legal problems in some countries, other car renting and car sharing startups followed suit. This is due to the fact that the most popular categories globally are transport and travel.

 

Read more: Airbnb, Snapgoods and 12 More Pioneers of the Share Economy gallery from Forbes

 

Or for sale at discounted price

 

Others opt to sell their items using online stores like eBay. Filipinos, on the other hand have OLX.

 

For both online stores, users are encouraged to sell new or slightly used items. OLX.ph “Yessss Yaman” advertisement highlights the company’s mission is to convert “trash”into cash.

 

Maybe to be recycled

 

Freecycle is a network of individuals in the US and UK that “organizes a worldwide network of gifting groups, aiming to divert reusable goods from landfills.

 

The idea is to post an item that you do not need any more online so that someone else might want to take it or adopt it.

 

Borrowed, lent or gifted

 

Another community started the Buy Nothing Project that offers “a way to give, receive, share, lend and express gratitude through a worldwide network of hyper-local gift economies in which the true wealth is the web of connections formed between people who are real-life neighbours.”

 

Essentially, the project discourages users to buy a product especially if someone else can lend or give it to you.  This way, our extras would not go to waste.

 

Or not at all necessary

 

Sash Milne, a mother from Western Australia was featured in the news for trying to buy nothing for a whole year. In 2014, she started Nothing New Project on a personal level after realising the she buys things mindlessly from time to time.

 

She and her daughter survived the whole year by recycling and sharing items with a new community she found on her journey to rid herself of commercialism.

 

What can we learn from this:

 

Our buying behaviour

 

To join the sharing economy we need to look at our buying habits. We need to understand our own beliefs and values about money and material things. We need a paradigm shift on how we view things to be able to commit to little or no buying.

 

No to scarcity thinking

 

Sharing can only happen if you start thinking that what you have is enough. We should stop thinking that we can only share our extras or only the rich people can be charitable.

 

Sharing needs an abundance mentality, a generous heart and a courageous move to reach out.

 

Nothing is ever trash

 

As the saying goes, one man’s trash is another’s treasure. Not everything you do not have a use for needs to go in the trash can, other people might still find use for it.

 

Recycling and repurposing stuff is not only good for the environment, it can also be good for your pocket.

 

Beat the consumeristic habit

 

We grew up in a materialistic world and everything around us tells us to buy things because we need them.

 

We grew accustomed of having material things as a measure of success – the more we have the more affluent and popular we get.

 

The irony is, buying all these things never satisfies and just makes us want to have more. A never-ending cycle of buying, needing, and throwing things out can wear us down financially and emotionally.

 

Happiness is not material

 

We know this sometime ago, but somehow as we grow older we forget where our happiness lies.

 

Some people are impulsive buyers when they are depressed or upset, they may get a feeling of happiness, but they know all too well that this feeling is temporary.

 

We need to have real human connections

 

A sharing economy would only really work if there are people to share with. If you plan to try the sharing economy, do  not be scared to search for online communities, real neighbors, and organizations that you can join with.

If there isn’t a group that caters to your need in your area, start one.

 

Having a sharing community is supportive and as Ms. Milne found out,

 

“When we live as a part of a strong community our need to find ‘comfort’ or ‘emotional healing’ from purchasing things lessens, because we have people around us to help us shoulder the load. A community is a place where the desire to share is greater than the desire to own.”

 

Sharing with our family, friends and neighbors is not something new for Filipinos – we boast of having a generous and hospitable spirit to the international community. however, we can not deny that we are embracing materialistic and consumerist values. We also tend to be extravagant on things.

 

Take a look at your spending habits and see if any of these startups and new projects appeal to you.  Adopt one, start one and challenge everyone to share.

 

While you’re at it, share this article in your social network and let the gift giving begin!

 

Special thanks to Meridian 180 for the main image.

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