Why 2012 will be the year of sharing.

Trust: reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing.
In a down economy, owning things isn’t quite as appealing or affordable. Many are finding a solution in renting or borrowing something. This works especially well for things like tools, cars, DVDs and books.

It seems, here, that if we raise our hand and say, “I need this. Can you help?”—our community collectively answers, “Yes.” – Corbyn Hightower

An entire burgeoning business sector in fact is growing around this idea of what Rachel Botsman calls “collaborative consumption.” In fact, according to Botsman, this sharing economy is worth $100 billion worldwide.

The average power drill is only used 6 to 13 minutes in it’s lifetime. That’s a lot of dusty power drills. Tool libraries are popping up all over the place. And companies like Redbox and ZipCar, DVD and car rental companies respectively, are thriving. Botsman thinks we are on the brink of something big.

“The 20th century was about hyper-consumption, but the 21st century will be defined by collaborative consumption. It’s that transformative. People are just now beginning to connect the dots,” she said in an interview with Fast Company.

The Internet has created millions of connection points to allow digital neighbors to ask, “Can I borrow that?”

Perhaps the poster child of this movement is Airbnb which allows its community members to rent out couches, rooms, apartments or homes to one another. It’s a great way for the rentee to earn some extra cash, and for the renter to find a nice, homey place to stay.

When you rent something you are likely to get something of better quality than you could buy because these products were built to last.  And it is without the hassle of buying, maintaining, insuring, storing, and disposing of more stuff.  Americans spend $22 billion per year on 2.4 billion square feet of self storage, says the Center for the New American Dream. Imagine what we could do with that money if spent elsewhere.

Sharing economies help build community and build trustworthiness. Not to mention that sharing items is better for the planet by using fewer resources.

But perhaps the biggest benefit of sharing is that it makes us feel good. A recent study conducted by Co-operatives UK in 2011 found that 80% of those who share feel happier after doing so.

Botsman believes the collaborative consumption business model can help companies better provide services and goods to people wherever and whenever they need them, at a price they can afford, and allow businesses to profit and thrive, without draining our natural resources. It’s winning all around.

Enhanced by Zemanta
  • http://profiles.google.com/kanelstrand Kanelstrand Design

    It took me a вhile to get used to renting and sharing but several years into it I feel that it is the right way to go. Plus,  this helps you to live unattached to stuff which is connected to an uncluttered life. All in all – great! In fact this lifestyle should not be only practiced when you don’t have enough money.

  • http://www.facebook.com/odile.beniflah Odile Beniflah

    Take the example of carpooling: when you share a ride, you share the cost, you reduce trafic and pollution, you share experiences (if you want to!), you meet new friends.
    Everyone benefits and can do it its own way.
    Fyi on http://www.carpooling.com, we now count 10 weddings 😉

  • Linda

    It’s all about skillbound.com!  People are finally figuring out that it pays to get good things for free.

  • Jesse Biroscak

    I’d be curious to your opinions on trust between two members of the sharing economy. Are the insurance and compensation schemes enough to make you feel secure? Full disclosure: I’m working with the WhyTrusted.com folks to increase transparency and accountability in this area and we’re trying to build a site that responds to your trust needs. Any and all feedback is appreciated! Thanks – Jesse at WhyTrusted

    • Anonymous

      I think, as with anything, most people are more likely to go with their friends, family and acquaintances first. For this reason, social plugins for things like Facebook are essential. I also personally find them more effective. The responses are quicker and more accurate. I will ask my circles first, then the greater public if that doesn’t work.

  • Donovan

    http://www.Skillbound.com is  phenomenal.  I love the idea!  What I like about it the most is that there are no cut and dry rules about who or when someone can teach someone a skill.  People understand how knowledgeable someone is within a very short amount of time and they can find a time to meet that suits their schedule.  The problem I’ve had with other sites, is that they are too rigid.  They work on a point system etc.  And the fact that its free is a bonus.   

  • Alina Shahnazari

    Nice article!
    Sharing is very contagious. Once you use one sharing website ,if you had a good experience with it you are going to tell your friends and  you will look more on the Internet to get what you want when you want. It’s a smart way of living but it has to be very convenient and fun. 
    We built Clouditems- a social network to connect you to the people in your life or the trustworthy people in your town to sell,rent,exchange,lend or give away physical goods.