Thursday, September 22, 2011

Idea for today: Collaborative Consumption

Today the idea that I've stumbled upon is Collaborative Consumption - the idea that the world is now moving from a time of hyper-consumerism into a new era where people are sharing, swapping and trading their possessions and time with the use of technology. Just take a look at eBay, car-sharing schemes, AirBNB, Couchsurfing, house swapping... the list goes on. Technology has allowed us to create communities that interact around the world, and you can even make money out of this! The average New Yorker earns $21,000 a year renting out their extra space on AirBnB.

Take a look at this TED talk by Rachel Botsman talking about how Collaborative Consumption is changing the world.

I got to this idea from an article about how the adventure clothing store Patagonia has teamed up with eBay to encourage people to sell their old Patagonia clothes. They launched the the “Buy Less, Buy Used” campaign because its the best way for the company to reduce its environmental footprint. Kind of strange for a company to encourage people not to buy stuff from their store, but to buy second hand! But that is what Patagonia is all about, reducing their impact on the earth. I recently read an excellent book by the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouninard, called "Let my people go surfing", about how he created a model sustainable business. It is an inspiring read.

So what can I do to reduce my consumption?
  • Think twice before you buy more stuff. Do you really need it? Why are you really buying it - to keep up appearances?
  • If you do buy something, buy something with the best quality you can afford, so it wont fall apart after you use it a few times. Or buy something second-hand, and extend the lifespan of the product.
  • Sell your stuff - on ebay etc, or swap it with a friend. Organise a clothes swap.
  • Rent your space - via AirBnB or couchsurfing. Perhaps you'll reduce the demand for beach side development ruining some sand dunes.
  • Buy green, buy local.
What other actions are you taking?


  1. Library books! I loooove to read and library books are the ultimate escape from consumerism. They're free, environmentally friendly, and don't clutter my house ;-)

  2. So true Karen, I love the library! Now I frequent a second hand book store in Tel Aviv, and pass on or borrow as many books as I can. I will try and work out the public library system here if I can...

  3. Update: our car died but instead of buying a new one we now use a car sharing scheme here in Tel Aviv called Car2Go - - it is great so far, with full English support, and we figured that it's going to save us a tonne of money!