Sharing Economy Brands That Are Good for the Environment

Author: Joel Cesare

“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”

– Socrates

Does your brand consider sustainability a core priority? Was your company founded on a platform of social responsibility? Is it the job of a corporation to consider people and planet along with profit?

As the sustainability movement plateaus towards inertia, these questions are becoming increasingly stale and boring. If you think you care about future generations and you don’t realize the answers to these questions are irrelevant, then your head is right next to the climate change deniers in the sand.

The question is: Can the planet’s resources sustain the onslaught of a global, growth-based capitalist economy? As population growth is expected to continue and emerging economies embrace the wasteful, growth-based economic model the U.S. has perfected, the answer is a resounding no. Regardless of private-sector efforts to “green” their operations and products, business-as-usual economics will lead us to global systemic failure sooner than we are willing to admit.

Now that I’ve warmed you up with hope and optimism, let’s get to the fun part of the blog. A solution…

The sharing economy

This is not an anti-capitalism argument. This is recognition that we need to rethink the way we exchange goods and services, and acknowledge that the endless pursuit of short-term growth goals does not mathematically align with the resources available on this planet. As Richard Heinberg points out in a recent piece about renewable energy’s inability to support economic growth: “Growth must no longer be the economy’s goal; rather, we must aim for the satisfaction of basic human needs within a shrinking budget of energy and materials.”

The sharing economy can simply be described as the eruption of peer-to-peer marketplaces made simple and cost-effective by the Internet. As the Economist stated, “On the Internet, everything is for hire.” Made famous by Uber and Airbnb, the sharing economy now extends into every niche of our lives imaginable. What was once mocked as a fad is now a $110 billion market and growing. And that may be the best part of this story. It has been embraced by major brands for its ability to create brand loyalty, community and customer data.

If the sharing economy can help us decouple economic growth from prosperity, and therefore solve long-term environmental destruction, it will have to become mainstream.

Numerous new brands are building communities that signal a shift toward this new way of people exchanging goods and services. What if your participation in a marketplace brought you a new, life-changing experience in the outdoors? What if stuff, doing nothing but causing clutter, could be exchanged for other people’s stuff you need? What if an ancient form of bartering was made globally accessible by a brilliant algorithm? What if all of this saved you money, made someone else money and required the extraction of no virgin resources?

Let’s check out three brands that are making this possible.

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