Collaborative Consumption is a Better Path for Developing Countries
Friday, November 12, 2010
The United States was founded on the idea of idea of individual liberty, individual ownership, and individual needs. Unfortunately, this is a costly way for a country to develop, especially if every citizen aspires to express his freedom and individuality by owning a car or a house or a hammer.
Nearly 250 years into the evolution of our ethos of individuality, some Americans are starting to recognize that the primacy of individual ownership is not always economically sustainable. A movement has begun that places value on providing access to products and services, rather than ownership. Do we all really need to own a car? Or can we share a ZipCar that can be rented by the hour and used as needed? Consider the space we use. Do we all need to live in a house? Or can we seek out co-housing situations, where families share communal spaces like kitchens and yards, but have private sleeping quarters. Consider items that are used by all, but infrequently: Could the residents of each floor of an apartment building share tools like hammers and brooms instead of buying their own?
The move toward access, rather than ownership is documented and promoted in three recently released books, The Age of Access, The Mesh, and What’s Mine Is Yours. (See GOOD’s infographic on this.) This trend has applications far beyond liberal American households and communities.