Sharing is a New Black: Consume less; share better

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The French author of “How the rich are destroying the Earth”, Hervé Kempf, advocates living in adifferent, more sustainable way. His common-sense mandate is simple:

“Consume less; share better.”

Hervé Kempf

Picture 2

It’s easy to think of ways this is relevant to us all; how many of us own a tent that we use no more than a couple of days over the summer? How many of us have a slow-cooker that we’ve only ever used once or twice, but we hold on to ‘just in case’? How many of us make a journey in the car with four empty passenger seats? And on the flip side, how many of us have loft space in our homes that is only ever half-full?

Sharing seems the obvious solution to all this wastage. But Hervé’s nugget of wisdom doesn’t go into too much detail about how one can share better. We take a look at the options…

Share with friends and relatives?

Friends and family are great for all your sharing needs – but doesn’t John always seem to be using his power drill for DIY on the weekend you need to borrow it? And isn’t Auntie Ann’s garage always full and unable to accommodate the snorkelling equipment you use only one week a year? The fact of the matter is, if you solely rely on friends and family for sharing, your borrowing base will be pretty small and availability will be limited.

With friends and family there’s also ‘the informality factor’ that can lead to awkwardness. The tupperware collection that goes astray, the sander they claim was theirs all along. It’s not that you can’t trust them, it’s just that with people you know well, you’d never make a note of where things end up.

Share with neighbours?

This is all well and good but local communities, it seems, are becoming less well-integrated. In 2009 Circle Anglia conducted a survey that revealed people aged 65 or over were pretty likely to know their neighbours – 82% of those questioned said they chat with neighbours regularly. When it came to the under-25s however, a mere 44% said they’d talk with their neighbours. Going and asking your neighbour for a cup of sugar isn’t easy if you don’t know them, so asking to borrow a lawn-mower might not go down too well…:-)

Share with strangers?

This may not seem like a very appealing option but, thanks to developments in technology, it is rapidly becoming the most sensible. The internet and a phenomenon known as ‘Collaborative Consumption’ now enable people to connect with strangers for mutual sharing benefit. With Collaborative Consumption the small sharing base you have with friends, family and neighbours suddenly becomes infinitely larger.

Unlocking the potential of sharing.

It isn’t just drills and lawn mowers that are on offer through this new phenomenon. Websites such as Airbnb, RelayRides and SnapGoods match up owners and renters; smartphones with GPS let people see where the nearest rentable car is parked; social networks provide a way to check up on people and build trust; and online payment systems handle the billing. You can also share this article on facebook, twitter and other social networking sites. Keep sharing and don’t be selfish. Share more or less. The world is built on shares so do your part.

We’ve got to think about our choices for the future collectively, seeking cooperation rather than competition.Picture 1

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