In a world of 7.5 billion people, there are innumerable scenarios where individual ownership of a product or service would prove financially, environmentally, and logistically impractical. Airplanes are a good example. If every single person needing to fly had to have their own plane, crew, control tower, and runway ... well, you can picture the chaos, not to mention the immense use of resources and exorbitant costs. In the same way, providing access to - instead of ownership of - products and services can make a solution significantly more feasible and effective. Shared access has the added benefits of being arguably fairer, more efficient, more transparent and visible, and inspiring increased participation. In the age of Uber, WeWork, Airbnb, the term "sharing economy" has become commonplace, though the exact definition and what qualifies can vary widely.
The stories in this collection (see below) explore a variety of ways in which entities are leveraging shared access to resources to solve complex social challenges. This collection is featured in the Campus Ecochallenge and People's Ecochallenge.
- According to Juliet Schor in "Debating the Sharing Economy," Great Transition Initiative (October 2014), the "sharing economy" activities fall into four broad categories: recirculation of goods; increased utilization of durable assets; exchange of services; and sharing of productive assets. Describe how each of the solutions explored in this collection fit into one or more of these categories.
- Other than saving money and resources, the desire to increase social connections is also cited as a common motivation for a shared solution. Identify ways in which the solutions in this collection encourage community engagement and how that plays into their effectiveness.
- Compare and contrast how these solutions might be different if they had been structured to provide individual access to the product or service needed, rather than shared access. What additional resources, processes, and systems would be necessary? How would that change their implementation and/or success?