The term ‘sharing economy’ was coined by social entrepreneur Benita Matofska, and it’s concept is both ancient yet revolutionary.
At it’s heart, the sharing economy is about trading goods and services without any financial wealth trading place. It is essentially about sharing and collaboration; and this can take many forms, but the goal is to improve human life without the need to waste resources.
We look at how this novel concept could work if implemented on a wider scale, and we’ll soon be speaking to Benita, founder of People Who Share.com.
People are accessing current resources rather than buying new products
It’s long been said that as a species we are over-consuming, but the sharing economy model means that more people are renting, borrowing, trading, and accessing goods or services for a limited amount of time, rather than having a desperate need to own them outright. We can see that this model is already slowly creeping into our global economy.
Clothes swopping parties and charity shop fashion is on the rise; and with the recent surge of interest in minimalism, consumers are looking to condense their wardrobes by creating a capsule wardrobe or simply just consuming fashion more slowly.
The concept of ownership is becoming outdated as millennials know it’s all about being connected and sharing - hence the rise in house swapping, the popularity of Airbnb, and the growing number of car-sharing schemes. We don't want to just own stuff; it's made us isolated. We want more meaningful experiences by connecting with others - and more of us are sharing our homes, our possessions, our workspaces. Recent examples include the launch of 123 Envoiture in France, a car sharing service with over 800,000 registered members, and Mainyard Studios in London who offer collaborative shared working spaces.
By moving towards an economy where we reuse or exchange rather than discard, we generate a new love for a product or service, rather than discarding it when it no longer fulfils us. It’s no longer about accumulating ‘stuff’; it’s about generating meaningful and fulfilling purchasing experiences.
The economy creates new forms of value
In the sharing economy, the new form of value is co-operation, creativity and connection between individuals. It means social responsibility is strong and others look to re-use resources wherever possible. By reducing or eliminating purely financial forms of value, this means that human creativity can be more strongly introduced into the economy.
For example, projects such as recycling or upcycling become valuable, and the mindset we now approach to goods and services is a ‘fix it’ mindset, rather than a ‘throw it away’ mindset.
This is crucial for us to restore environmental balance in the world. If we can all make do with our current resources, and transform them in fun and creative ways, we create a new meaning for ownership. Items are individualised and infused with individual meaning, rather than mass produced in a factory.
Sharing is democratic
In a sharing based economy, power flows between people, instead of in a hierarchical system, where the few have the power at the hands of the many.
To share evokes trust. If I lend a stranger my apartment or car, it naturally means that I am willing, open, and able to trust them. This means our focus shifts from the product or service ‘my possession’ to the relationship that is being fostered between lender and sharer.
Trust is then built up like a currency; and we can see this already happening when we rate an Uber driver or leave feedback on an Airbnb site. Sharing encourages us to ‘play nice’ with other human beings, because if we don’t, we’re left out of the sharing game and unable to experience all the ranges of goods and services on offer.
When we share, we create a win-win situation. So perhaps the sharing economy may be transforming our world's problems in more ways than we even knew it could.
What do you think of sharing your possessions or exchanging services with others?