The Sharing Economy: Three Reasons to Borrow

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Borrowing is Social.

I recently got talking to a couple who use BorrowMyDoggy, the online community matching dog owners with local borrowers for walks, sitting and holiday care. What struck me about the process was not their offering of saccharine pug-stories, but the account they gave of the human relationships that have formed.

Since the start of the couple’s dog-sharing agreement, the pug’s owners – a local couple, forty years senior – have become regular visitors to their house. A simple borrowing transaction has grown into an invested friendship between neighbours, with shared dinners and poker nights to boot.

This unlikely intimacy – between people at such different stages of life – is not universal in the collaborative movement. But the story pulls into sharp focus some of the potential social benefits of the sharing economy.

Research increasingly tells us that we’re accelerating towards our own social isolation. Indeed, the rise of eCommerce is rapidly minimising human contact in the consumer experience. The sharing economy has the potential to balance this trend, by connecting us with local people with similar interests. It is a platform not just for sharing items, transport, services and pets, but for sharing experience.

And that’s not the only benefit of the sharing revolution.

 

Borrowing is Green.

The environmental benefits promised by the ‘collaborative consumption’ movement are significant. Apps like BlaBlaCar and Rideshare are reducing the number of vehicles on our roads. EatWith and OLIO are platforms which link cooks and ingredients with nearby hungry mouths – they aim to give the food industry a greener future by reducing food waste.

The sharing economy is helping to limit the carbon footprint of the tourism industry too. According to a study conducted by the Cleantech Group, holidays that use home sharing companies like AirBnB, emit 66% less CO2 than hotel-stay holidays. The vast amounts of water used by hotels for guests’ cleaning, laundry and cooking far outweighs that of their home-sharing equivalents.

Similarly, an item-sharing infrastructure promises to put the brakes on unnecessary mass-manufacturing and carbon-intensive distribution systems. It is the responsible choice.

 

Borrowing is Resourceful.

The tent you used once, on a drab camping trip in 2012. The road bike which is yet to see the road this year. The lawnmower sitting idle in your shed. The wedding dress you’ll hopefully never need again…

Our homes are cluttered with potential assets. And the increasing demand for self-storage in recent years is a lesson in inefficiency. Who wants to pay for what they’ve already bought? Storage companies turn your belongings into a financial burden. But the borrowing community has the power to invert this pattern entirely. By opening up a market tailored to underused items, it makes your clutter work for you.

Tim Slater- Marketing Lama