Nowadays Sharing Economy has taken the world by storm. It is also known as collaborative economy, collaborative consumption and peer economy. Astonishing success of peer-to-peer rental platforms like Uber, Airbnb, etc., have made the concept even more enticing. However, we always talk about the monetary benefits associated with sharing economy and the convenience that it offers us but we never pay attention to the impact it has made on conserving the environment.
Believe it or not but sharing economy has extreme positive impact on the environment. Although sharing economy seems like an extension of online shopping but it is also serving the environment. Through promoting the idea of sharing everything from books to clothing and tools to food, renters are basically turning unused value into useful value. As they say unused value is actually wasted value so when there is stuff lying idle at our homes and closets, they are nothing short of useless clutter while somewhere else a person in need of the same thing ends up buying it anew. When the required goods are exchanged, it will substantially reduce demand for those products and therefore lesser energy and resources will be utilized.
The biggest example in this regard is books exchange service, which many rental companies such as Chegg, Bookbyte and BookRenter offer. Due to initiation of book exchanging service, these companies are reducing the need to print more editions of same books and this poses huge impact on preservation of trees. When people can rent books without having to pay a hefty sum for buying their new editions they are basically curbing the public demand.
Same goes for fashion industry. As we know that the higher the demand for clothes, the larger would be the consumption of natural and manmade resources like cotton and electricity. It is a fact that a majority of our clothes remain unused for a long time and some are worn only once or twice and then we outgrow them or feel that fashion has changed. Clothes become clutter in no time and we never really get it how to make use of them, so we throw them.
According to ThredUP, an online thrift store, clothing worth more than $8 billion stays unused in the closets of US citizens. The while the demand for clothes is increasing day by day. With emergence of worldwide operating cloth renting services like Girl Meets Dress, Glam Corner, Chic by Choice, Rent the Runway and Poshmark, we have now a chance to decrease the use of raw materials by providing people clothing within their budget.
The advantages of renting fashionable outfits are various and diverse; consumers get to pay at least 10 to 20 percent less amount on their clothing and they are able to afford expensive, branded clothes without emptying their pockets. Conversely, the need to make new clothes diminishes with inception of more and more sharing economy platforms like ThredUP. Waste materials also get lesser and lesser with the reduction in demand and this lays immense impact in elimination of environmental pollutants.
Then there are renting outlets for handbags such as Bag Borrow or Steal where people can rent any high-end bag for up to a month. This would eventually play a bigger role in reducing the requirement of leather to make expensive handbags.
How can we forget the positive role being played by food sharing companies like Eat With, Kitchensurfing, VizEat, Copia and Cookening that are helping in sharing food in order to reduce food waste? These are platforms dedicated to delivering food that people choose from the offered menu and through this, they manage to reduce consumption of energy and natural gas as well as food sources.
You will find sharing companies for almost anything. Freecycle is platform where you can giveaway all sorts of unused items like an old mattress or dress and make it useful for someone else. You can give and take stuff for free and save a lot of money.
So, what we can assume is that sharing economy is a model of consumption that eliminates the need for accumulation and stands by the principle of renting out goods on as needed basis. This is a great privilege enjoyed by the Millennial and Gen-Z consumers also called NOwners but the winner is the environment because resources are being used efficiently and waste is being minimized. Utilization of unused items means lesser stuff will end up in the trash and lesser products will be produced.