Have you ever heard of the term “sharing economy”? We encounter this model daily. If you have ever rented a house on Airbnb, ordered a piece of cloth on Vinted, or took an Uber, you have participated in the sharing economy without knowing it. Collaborative, participative, or sharing, all of those terminologies qualify an economy mainly based on the sharing of resources through the principle of temporary property rather than ownership or reuse rather than first-hand purchasing.
As Uber was one of the leaders and the founder of this model, when it comes to its spreading in the different economic sectors, we speak of an Uberization of the society. Ranging from food, with Too Good To Go, to assistance with Task Rabbit including transports with Blablacar or even funding with applications such as Kickstarters, the sharing economy is present everywhere. But apart from its high rentability, what are the real benefits of this model for the society and the consumers?
The sharing economy can have a real impact on the way we consume, the environment as well as community building. Businesses such as Too Good To Go have helped to raise awareness on food waste and actively aim to fight it. If you do not know the application, the concept is simple. It proposes to anyone who did download the app to select a dish from a restaurant that would have otherwise been thrown away. The business has now expanded to supermarkets. Of course, prices are reduced compared to their original value. Both the restaurants and the consumers take advantage of the situation.
Developed countries do produce too much food. According to the Food and Agricultural organization of the United Nations. In 2016, about 16 per cent of the food in the distribution in Northern America and Europe was wasted. This number does not include the food that is wasted after being purchased. This is this segment of the food waste that Too Good To Go aims to have an impact on, at its scale. European consumers at home are the bigger waster, the share of loss represents 38 per cent of the European food waste, they are followed by the agriculture, hostel and catering sectors, supermarkets and last, the food industry. Overall, about 1/3 of the food produced on both continents is wasted.
It is those initiatives, such as startups with a social purpose that are going to make the future better, more environmentally friendly.
The sharing economy as said earlier is everywhere, even in the cloth industry.
Do you know Vinted? This business is a used clothes retailer. On their application, members sell clothes or accessories they do not use anymore instead of throwing them away, giving them a second life. Recently, they have expanded their catalogue to furniture or even home appliances.
The issue of clothes manufacture and fast fashion, its impact on the environment and the working condition of the labour force has been under the limelight for a few years now. People start to realize this industry cannot remain unchanged.
This particular business, for instance, is not going to completely change the way people consume but it offers them new possibilities that could enhance future habits.
Being an agent of the sharing economy grants reduced prices, enables to have a lower impact on the environment but also helps to rebuild the bridge that had fallen because of globalization and mass consumerism through the internet.
Applications such as Too Good To Go also enable customers to get to know their local shops and restaurants. It connects people within the community. The businesses that well illustrate this community strengthening are TaskRabbit, Allovoisins, or even Needhelp. Those companies propose to connect people in need to people who have the required service to offer. Blablacar can be taken as an example as well in terms of connection creation. When the internet is usually used to skip in-person contact to get faster what you need, in this case, it is used as a tool to create social contact.
The sharing economy is seen by many as an economic model that can only grow. With all the environmental and social challenges that our modern society faces, this system of sharing or reusing resources can only further develop.
Written by: Marie Charbonneau
Edited by: Marie Charbonneau