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The Sharing Economy

Posted: 8:29AM April 19th, 2012 | Comments

I moved into a new house the end of January. And I just started painting my living room. Which meant a trip (actually 3 at this point) to the hardware store to by a paint brush, roller, pan and ladder. This weekend I plan to prune the hedge. Which means I have to get a pair of electric pruning shears. I love owning a house, but, man, it requires a lot of equipment!

My dismay at my quickly filling garage was one of the reasons I was so interested in Juliet Schor's mention of the sharing economy during her presentatin at the Nelson Institute Earth Day Conference this past Monday. Juliet spoke about creating a new kind of economic model that incorporates economic and environmental health. A model she calls Plentitude.

Juliet outlined 3 steps towards achieving this economy of plentitude. Step 1: Use increases in productivity to reduce hours of work, rather than only increase production or income. Step 2: Find new ways of consuming, including developing a sharing economy. Step 3: Develop high tech means of self provisioning, such as micro generation of energy, small scale manufacturing and urban agriculture.

Each of these steps deserves a blog post, if not a book. However, today as I prepare to go home and work on my house, I am most intrigued by the sharing economy. I see the sharing economy emerging all around me. Madison now has B-cycles to share bikes. There is Community Car and Zipcar to share cars. Sector 67 to share skills, knowledge and equipment. Airbnb to share homes. ThredUP to share clothes. Freecycle to share all sorts of stuff. And I can't forget libraries to share books and information. Even Netflix is a kind of sharing.

And neighborhoods all over the country have set up tool sheds to share tools. I wonder if my new neighborhood has one. Does yours? With what aspects of the sharing economy are you engaged?


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