Is sharing the new owning?

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CIE-MAP’s Christine Cole and Alex Gnanapragasam look at the sharing economy and how the future may see more of us sharing and borrowing many everyday items.

 

‘Stuff’ overload

Entitled ‘Having more, owning less: how to fight throwaway culture‘ the article (published in The Conversation) points out that we are reaching ‘peak stuff’ and that the culture of constantly buying electrical goods, clothes and household items just to throw them away and replace them soon after is becoming unsustainable. More and more people are choosing to repair, reuse and recycle items leading to the materials they are made with having a longer lifecycle and reduced carbon footprint.

And in the sharing economy – as the name suggests – people are starting to share items rather than everyone having to own their own. So for example a local ‘library of things’ may have an electric drill that can be borrowed when it is occasionally needed to put up some shelves, rather than every household in a community needing to own one.

 

Sustainable business models

It seems that businesses are also coming on board to this way of thinking. This is of course crucial for a cultural change to take place, as companies need to change their practices of churning out semi-disposable goods with a view to encouraging customers to replace items every few years. The article points out that companies are designing cars with a view to them being shared, and even reusing bits of satellite launchers rather than building them from scratch.

The researchers believe that companies can change their business models to produce higher quality, repairable and leasable goods and still make a profit. Ironically this futuristic idea of the sharing economy has a lot of similarities to the way people rented TVs and VCRs and shared lawnmowers etc. in the 70s and 80s.

 

Read the full article on The Conversation

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