Why sharing is more important than ever

Why sharing is more important than ever

It’s one of those little life lessons we all probably learned in kindergarten: sharing is good. It’s nice to share. If you have something and see someone who has none, it’s your responsibility to share.

But somewhere along the way, many of us have forgotten this little lesson. We’ve gotten swept up in the lure of individual ownership. Stuff is status. Stuff is security.

We haven’t been playing well with others. We’ve been holed up in our big houses, never bothering to get to know our neighbors. As Lisa Gansky says in her book, The Mesh, “Autonomy was linked to status. Relying on your neighbors was out.”

Or at least it used to be – before the economic collapse.

Now, our values are shifting and we’re realizing that stuff is stressful. Stuff is expensive. Stuff is bad for the environment, as we manufacture and dispose of more and more of it.

We’re realizing that it truly does take a village, especially in times of hardship, to make a go of it. It takes community.

And that leads to a huge business opportunity: shared goods and services. There are already some well-documented successes like ZipCar, a service that allows members to use cars for as little as an hour at a time. There are already services that rent own private homes while the owners are away. There are already online clothing swap services that refresh your closet – or your growing child’s closet – when you need it.

So where are the new apartment complexes with shared car services, tool closets and community gardens featured as amenities? Where are the walkable neighborhoods that also offer community solar panels that power the pool house and the streetlights? There are a thousand other big ideas out there that can merge society’s changing values with today’s powerful technology to create a new vision of value.

It might just sound like this: on-demand access is the new value. Let me get it when I need it. Unused value is waste. Maximize usefulness among the many instead of the few.

But it’s more than just cars or tools. The earth is the ultimate shared resource, and now more than ever, it’s important to think of ourselves as part of a community and to recognize the opportunity that presents to us as responsible marketers.

PS: Want to read something really cool about community and sharing? Check out www.thebiglunch.com.

About the Author

Karen Barnes

Karen is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

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