15 Jun 2011
June 15, 2011

The Sharing Revolution

Sharing Revolution

In today’s tough economy, people are realizing that sharing saves time and money, helps the environment and creates lasting friendships. They’re sharing cars, bikes, tools, gardens, tasks, skills, clothing, housing, food, meals, loans, advice, childcare, group purchases and much more. The Internet makes it easy and smartphones make it possible for people on the go.

Here’s what I learned at a conference on “The Sharing Revolution” hosted by Acterra.

Neal Gorenflo, publisher of Shareable Magazine, said humans are fundamentally sharing beings. Margaret Mead said that for 99 percent of our time on earth, we have lived in tribes and groups. He said:

We have developed an economic system that denies our social nature, confuses wealth with status, encourages waste and promotes inequities in wealth and power.

Five things have created a perfect storm for the sharing revolution:

  • The recession means everyone can’t afford to buy one of everything.
  • The rise of Web 2.0 promotes sharing (e.g., open source, cloud computing).
  • Environmental awareness discourages waste.
  • Generation Y is the first generation raised on the Internet; predisposed to share.
  • We are more connected. “Urban” is becoming desirable. People are beginning to move closer together and are continually connected by cell phones.

We are moving to an economy of access instead of ownership. Sharing saves time, saves money, contributes to the common good, helps the environment, builds community and strengthens relationships.

Here are some examples of ways people are sharing:

  • RelayRidesGetAround – Now you can rent a car from a neighbor. AB 1871 enacted in California in January 2011 enables people renting cars from friends to be covered by insurance. Taking 15,000 cars off the road saves $127 million annually that can go back into the local economy.
  • LendingClub.com – You can loan money to strangers, as little as $25.  One man said he’s earning close to 14 percent on his money and netting close to 10 percent. Like many sharing sites, the service includes reputation rating.
  • Bike sharing – This is the fastest growing form of transportation.
  • Grubly  – Invites people who like to cook to share meals
  • TaskRabbit.com – Outsources everyday errands and tasks
  • Neighborhood Growing Circles – Neighbors with extra space pair up with gardeners who give them part of their bounty.
  • Cohousing – Mountain View has several projects under way where residents will have their own condos but will share common spaces and services.
  • TechShop, Menlo Park – Members get to use thousands of tools and fabrication machines.
  • Underground Market, San Francisco – People make foods and exchange them. It got too large and the city just shut them down.

A very interesting book on this subject is The Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life and Build Community, by Janelle Orsi.