Ever wonder what collaborative consumption has in common with students living together in college apartments, the hospitality and tourism industry, and New York cabbies?
And when we think of collaborative consumption, what do we think of?
We usually think of AirBnB and the like. These businesses do promote collaborative consumption, but to a smaller degree.
When AirBnB first started, it had a lot in common with college students sharing an apartment. One concept of AirBnB was to share the cost of living in an apartment with other people for a fraction of the price that it took to rent out a hotel room. On top of that – it was a more authentic experience for the person renting out the house/room since it was someone else’s home. Since then AirBnB has grown to become a global marketplace and a platform for landlords as well.
Today, college students still share and collaboratively consume services such as accommodation facilities in colleges, thereby lowering costs for each individual student, as compared to if a student had to rent out a whole apartment on their own by themselves.
In major cities like Tokyo, Singapore, and New York, car-sharing services and platforms have popped up as an answer to increasingly prohibitive costs to owning a car. Why cars? Because cabs are expensive, and sometimes, cars are more convenient when you need to go to a more isolated area.
Some carpool services gain revenue from advertising, and others, charge a membership fee. However, most just share the cost of the travel plus a fee, and increase the efficiency of the transport system as a whole by reducing the number of vehicles on the road, as well as lowering pollution at the same time.
That is another key factor that we often overlook when considering as to why collaborative consumption is great for the public good as well as the consumer – lowered pollution is a key indicator of economic progress and prosperity.
Lowered pollution, which is also in line with less wastage, means more efficiency and productivity in a workforce and economy, which also means more profits and higher standards of living for everyone.
Consider this example – if everyone had a car that could seat 5 people and drove to work everyday, but only one person drove a car, would that not clog the roads and produce lots of smog? On top of that – the stress of being stuck in a traffic jam would piss everyone off so bad, that when they got to work, nothing is actually going to get done! But hey! Everyone has a nice 5 seater SUV!
Now consider the collaborative consumption alternative – public transport and car-sharing or ride-sharing in effect. Less smog from less vehicles on the road, a really smooth journey without jams. Sure, everyone might have to walk a bit when reaching their workplaces since the driver can’t drive up to everyone’s office doorstep, but the amount of time it takes to walk will be drastically lesser than the time spent and frustration gained from waiting in a traffic jam won’t it!
This is a prime example of how collaborative consumption can lower costs for us in our daily lives, it doesn’t need to be a complex model of sharing and collaboration, and can be beneficial to all parties involved.
Now, that’s an example for services. The collaborative consumption model has ‘traditionally’ worked for services rather than goods, since it’s harder to implement, but it has worked and is possible.
A prime example is used goods exchange platforms. Simply put, it is a place, or medium like a website where people go to buy, sell, resell, and most commonly – exchange the goods that they need with each other.
This is Collaborative Consumption too! People recycling their items, upcycling, by refurbishing them and then exchanging them for more value, as well as repairing, and then exchanging them for what they need!
Of course, this is lessened in our day and age, with our culture of consumerism and cheap goods, since it makes it easier to buy something way cheaper, and new, instead of going through the whole process of finding someone to exchange your item with, or giving it to someone who needs it more.
But wait! What if you considered this model of collaborative consumption instead? How would that benefit you?
Simply put – when you practice a culture of collaborative consumption, you create less waste since buying something much cheaper that breaks much faster will make more waste (and cost you more in the long term).
On top of that – when you practice a culture of collaborative consumption, you create a network of links that allow you to access more stuff than you would originally have, compared to if you had just gone to the store to replace your item.
These networks you build will also make it easier (and cheaper) to repair, replace, and find things you not only need, but want.
Everyone makes vintage fans these days, but are they really vintage? You actually find a vintage fan, but it’s broken, and here’s where the friends and people you meet while collaboratively consuming goods come in to help – there’s bound to be a tinkerer who can help you repair and refurbish the fan to working order.
Now, with the advent of the internet, you don’t have to limit yourself to your town – you can collaborate with people beyond your horizons, while consuming goods and services responsibly.