Collaborative consumption and the Paris Agreement? A sharing economy will help us to reduce carbon emissions? Really?
The 2015 Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change. Sustainable development and transformational change will help to make these goals a reality. And we’ve got a good start if we take some current and truly innovative business models and make them more pervasive in the fight to affect climate change and impact the way we live.
One of the business models that’s gaining momentum is called collaborative consumption. That’s what happens when consumers provide or obtain valuable resources or services through direct interactions with other consumers. Also known as a sharing economy, owners rent out something they own like a car, house, or bicycle to someone they may have never met. There’s no intermediary, as social media networks make collaborative consumption possible. We now swap, barter, trade, exchange, and share our possessions so that experiences, rather than ownership, take precedence.
This shift in culture is consistent with the Paris Agreement. In essence, we don’t need to use as much energy when we share the same pool of resources. Sharing reduces manufacturing, shipping, storage, and many other activities which add carbon emissions to the environment.
Just in the last few years we’ve seen many innovative eco-businesses based on collaborative consumption become part of our daily lives. In fact, USA Today calls collaborative consumption “America’s new business model.” Here are just a few of the many peer-to-peer sharing opportunities currently available in the U.S. and abroad.
- Lyft is a privately held American transportation network company based in San Francisco, CA. A mobile-phone application facilitates peer-to-peer ridesharing by connecting passengers who need a ride with drivers who have a car. Lyft now operates in over 200 U.S. cities, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City, and is valued at $5.5 billion.
- Uber, as reported by Swisher in Vanity Fair, was born on a snowy night in Paris in 2008. Founder Travis Kalanick and a friend could not get a cab. The two vowed to solve the problem with a revolutionary new app in which a person could push a button and get a car. Uber has been valued since at $18.2 million.
- Forbes included it among 14 “hottest on-demand startups” in 2015.
- TechCrunch Disrupt conference and has received $19 million in seed funding.
- Airbnb is often cited as the public face of the sharing economy. Users rent out their spare rooms or vacant homes to strangers. Wired contributor Colin Strong reported that Airbnb’s recent valuation was $10 billion with a reported revenue of $250 million last year. It has 550,000 listings in 192 countries.
- Home Exchange, with more than 65,000 properties listed and a million-plus exchanges worldwide, allows like-minded travellers to list their houses and contact one another through a messaging system. The site appeals to its audience by offering free accommodation travel anywhere in the world and the chance to live like a local.
- World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) takes a slightly different approach to peer-to-peer lodging exchanges. WWOOF links volunteers with organic farmers and growers to promote cultural and educational experiences. With the goal to build a sustainable global community, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation, and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles in exchange for volunteer help.
- Love Home Swap, as reported by Cosslett at The Guardian, is the world’s biggest home exchange website with 75,000 properties in over 160 countries.Users choose their destination country and a home in which they want to stay.The swap occurs directly or through the site’s Swap Points system.
- Indego, as reported on Ecolocalizer, is a Philadelphia-based bike sharing program. A component of Indego is their Digital Skills and Bike Thrills (DSBT) program, in which citizens can sign up to learn digital skills and cycling at their own pace (pun intended).
- CycleHop advertises itself as the largest “smart bike” sharing program operator in North America. They plan, implement, and operate leading active transit systems.Their bike share offers solutions for cities, universities, hotels and property owners. They make bike sharing convenient, healthy, affordable, sustainable, and fun.
- Spinlister is a peer-to-peer sharing service in which you can rent your bike, surfboard, SUP, snowboard, or ski. Spinlister, which is the bike sharing analogy to Airbnb, has reinvented itself along its way to its current stability.
More Collaborative Consumption Models to Follow
In Part II of our Collaborative Consumption series, we will chronicle how other peer-to-peer sharing networks support the goals of the Paris Agreement. Collaborative consumption is here to stay!
Photo credit: Elijah via Foter.com / CC BY