Lucy twirled around in a flamboyant red dress, struck a pose, and laughed. Lucy was new to London and was trying on a dress at a clothes swapping Swishing party. She loved these parties as she made new friends and could swap clothes she didn’t need anymore with other women. Little did she know she was helping reduce waste and part of a growing movement called collaborative consumption…
Introducing Collaborative Consumption – how wonderful!
Have a look around your home and think about all the things that are ‘wasted’ by not being used. In the US, 80% of items people own are used less than once a month. Waste isn’t just constrained to the garbage you might see on the street – think about the car which is sitting idle on average 23 hours a day or the power drill which is only used between 6-13 minutes of its lifetime. These items can definitely be used more – what a waste!
Collaborative consumption is a term to describe the renting, sharing, and swapping of underutilized assets. The Internet has now allowed people to connect and collaborate in ways not possible before – ‘wasting assets’ can be used more efficiently by linking those who own things with those who want access to them.
Take for example, cars. If you don’t want the burden of owning a car, you can use a car-sharing service like Relayrides (every shared car equates to taking 20 off the road!). Do you ever look at the empty car seats you see on roads and wonder whether you could rideshare to your destination? Carpooling.com helps facilitate 1 million rideshares per month.
Have clothes you don’t like anymore? Don’t throw them away! Use a clothes swapping site like ClosetDash which helps prevent clothes from ending up in landfill (and takes up to 400 years to decompose). Collaborative consumption isn’t constrained to just products – it can include things like time, space, skills, or money. Have amazing cooking skills that are just waiting to be shared? Don’t waste your talent! Teach a class on Skillshare and share your skills with your community.
Imagine a more Collaborative World
Imagine a future where sharing helps lead to a more sustainable world … Picture lawnmowers and tools being shared via a shared toolshed on each street or unwanted furniture reused and refurbished in new homes or offices. People having joint meals together through sites like Grub with us or using bike-sharing schemes to get to places instead of cars. There are many things that can be shared!
‘Lucy’ who is helping reduce waste by clothes swapping is actually a real person that I researched and represents many of the girls who are joining the clothes swapping movement today. I was fascinated with how these platforms could indirectly lead to people consuming more sustainably, which led to me writing my thesis on the topic.
My passion for collaborative consumption still remains and I’ve started Let’s Collaborate!, a collaborative consumption event series in New York to inspire and connect entrepreneurs, academics, VCs, and all people interested in the movement together. Through gathering people together, and raising thought-provoking debates, I hope to infect the greater community toward more collaborative, sustainable behaviors.
There is such delight from sharing, lending, or borrowing things – enjoyable experiences that can help reduce waste! Do you have ideas on how we can reduce waste by sharing? Please share your ideas in the comments below!
Let’s Collaborate! is a collaborative consumption event series in New York and sponsor of We Hate to Waste.