Collaborative consumption is simply a fancy name for saying ‘if you need it, share it with others, rather than buying it new’. The average lawnmower could likely be shared between houses for the time it’s used in the garden, and you really only need a ladder when you – well need a ladder! And apparently the average power tool only gets used for 20 minutes in its entire life! In this age of economic austerity, it’s not only good to save resources but a mighty good idea to save money, to share things between you, rather than each person buy the same item new.
Be careful with some items, as for safety, they are best not shared. Think mattresses (mould could carry disease, especially for vulnerable people and children), car seats (may not be safe), toys and pet toys (ditto). Best in these cases to buy new from trusted brand names.
The best-known example of the sharing economy is Airbnb, where people open up and share their homes to make income, rather than people always staying at expensive hotels. New ideas abound in collaborative consumption. You can share your workspace (lower rents) or share your garden (so someone can grow food and share the harvest with you).
It’s best not to have plants in shared offices, as toxic houseplants (sago palm, cheese plants and lilies) could harm visiting animal friends. Don’t display foliage to face windows, to help stop birds flying into windows. For outdoor spaces (office gardens etc), read how to make your garden safe for pets (to avoid toxic plants, trees, flowers and other items).
Why We Should Share
Governments are obsessed with consumerism, in order to promote ‘economic growth’. But in simple terms, this just gets people into debt buying stuff they don’t need, and then we have to find places for it to go to landfill. We live on a finite planet, and it makes far more sense to buy once, then share it out.
Don’t trash the planet, just to line the pockets of lazy governments, who can’t come up with better solutions than what ecological writer Satish Kumar once wrote as the philosophy of ‘buy, buy and then throw away’. People now buy so much junk, that many people then have to pay more money to stash it somewhere else, as there is no room in the house.
What’s Mine Is Yours is the go-to book to learn about the movement. The author was inspired to start the discussion, after learning of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (a mountain of rubbish the size of Texas, that is floating somewhere in the sea). We now have so much stuff, that the tide washes up everything from cigarette lighters to flip-flops on beaches thousands of miles away, all because we are simply buying too much for our needs. The average car only gets used for around 2 hours a day, a good idea to consider joining a car-sharing club.
Guess what percentage of total material flow through this system is still in use 6 months after their sale. 50% 20% NO. 1%. One! In other words ..99% of the stuff we run through the system is trashed within 6 months. Rachel Botsman
The share economy blows up the industrial model of companies owning and people consuming. Jan Forbes
- Streetbank is the main site to share ladders, drills, and anything else (including skills like gardening or DIY or language teaching). You can also give away stuff you no longer need. Freecycle is similar, with each local swap site monitored by volunteers.
- Fat Llama is similar, but a cheap rental site. So if you need a power tool or painting materials, just rent it off someone local, rather than buy it. Also a good way for hoarders to make a little passive income! You can rent sewing machines to musical instruments, and all lenders are protected up to £25,000. Some lenders here earn hundreds of pounds a month, if they have lots of stuff to lend!
- Library of Things is a site where you can borrow (for a small fee) things you only need for a day. Located nationwide (including 8 locations in London), you could rent anything from a pasta maker to a sewing machine, to a steam cleaner.