Here’s a trend you’ll start to feel the effect of soon: collaborative consumption.
It’s based on a really simple but powerful (nay, paradigm-shifting!) idea: you don’t need to own things to get value out of them! As expert Rachel Botsman challenges, “Why buy the drill when all you need is the hole?”
Think about it:
- You need a lawnmower to mow your lawn. But do you need to own the lawnmower? Could a number of the residents in your street just share one? For how many other garden tools might this work too?
- How long before you’re tired of that CD you bought (or those iTunes songs you downloaded)? With apps like Spotify, you can listen till you’re bored, but you didn’t waste money on buying songs!
- In many cities, the public transport is so good, you don’t really need a car. And when you do, why not just rent one by the hour?
- Kids notoriously get bored with toys quickly, with some exceptions. So why not join or setup a toy library, which can afford to buy high-quality and reliable toys for a large number of children to enjoy?
- Whenever we’re dealing with high-cost services, we typically find models of collaborative consumption as the only possible solution. For example, mums join babysitting clubs because none can afford a private nanny (or even babysitting bills).
It’s just human psychology, isn’t it. We “covet” what we see others have, yet we experience post-purchase dissonance as soon as we buy it for ourselves, and worse still, we continue to feel guilty for using the thing far less than we ought. Remember that gym membership?!
Maybe collaborative consumption models offer a guilt-free alternative. Maybe they’re good for the soul! And, seriously, I think they are, because they make for richer experiences of community, they save on resources, and they make you feel better about your own consumption habits. What’s not to like??
Here’s Rachel’s TED talk. Tell me you’re not in love with the idea!
So… are you going to join the revolution? Maybe you already have…
Common Goods for the Common Good
I don’t know about you, but I reckon there’s something so very dehumanizing and fake about out-of-control consumerism, about the endless pursuit of more stuff. My hope for myself, and for you, dear reader, is that this trend towards collaborative consumption yields good fruit, and not just in the sense of less stuff, but in a greater sense of value for something we don’t talk about much: the common good.
Ever stopped to think about what “common good” means? It means life is better done with other people, well. It points to those things in society that make it “rich”. So… if you had to share a lawnmower with your neighbours, would that enrich or impoverish your street? If you give your kids toys from a shared resource like a toy library, would that enrich or impoverish your children’s lives? If you were wealthy enough to afford a nanny and a housekeeper and a private driver and every other personal service, and didn’t need to work out “swaps” with friends, would that enrich or impoverish your life?
I think “less is more” if it means we discover the riches of stronger community.
So… will you commit to more common goods if this will really lead to a richer common good?