Last week, Jeremy Rifkin’s documentary “The Third Industrial Revolution: A New Sharing Economy” brought to public attention the importance that efficient sharing economies will have in coming years. The slowing of industrial productivity, coupled with the looming climate change crisis means that the game is up for the “take, make and dispose” model that we currently operate on.
This might seem a little inaccessible from the point of view of an individual. Most of us don’t have time to make lunch in the morning let alone contemplate changing economic models.
Yet the sharing economy is growing all around us, from Gumtree to Airbnb and most recently, stuff-sharing marketplaces like Fat Lama.
Born out of East-London in 2016, Fat Lama is a peer-to-peer rental platform where users can borrow items they need and rent out items that they don’t. It’s completely free to list items and operates out of your local area.
Put simply it’s a way for people to make money off their belongings and for others to gain access to equipment they might not otherwise be able to afford. However, the platform has the potential to become a lifestyle as much as a utility. Here are just a few of the benefits:
Saving The Environment
By 2022, the planet will have produced a staggering 50 million tonnes of e-waste.
This is by no means as harmless as it sounds. We are racing through computers, phones, cameras and cables at an alarming rate and worst of all, we recycle none of it.
By investing in the sharing economy and renting rather than buying, you can make a stance against the destructive and wasteful effects of linear consumerism.
To illustrate the paradigm, let’s take the example of a power drill, which, shockingly, is used for a grand total of 13 minutes on average in its life. It is a waste of money and is using up precious resources to buy such an item. Whereas if you rent from Fat Lama, the price of which is around $5 per day, you will end up saving yourself needless expenditure at no extra cost for the planet. This is not just true of drills, but Lawn Mowers, leaf blowers, cameras and projectors.
One of the big downsides to living in an urban environment is the lack of community spirit. Cities can feel stiflingly disconnected and it is not uncommon for a resident to have never spoken to a single person on their street.
There has been efforts made to re-localize districts, with cafés bars and social hubs popping up in suburbs all over the world. However, if you are looking for something more personal, using Fat Lama puts you into contact with hundreds of locals living around you who often, given the circumstances, have the same interests as you do.
For instance, if you are looking to rent a surfboard or Kayak, chances are the owner will be an enthusiast as well. This could lead to at the very least a friendly interaction if not a friendship.
Save Money and The Planet
The other great strength of renting rather than buying that it will save you a packet.
The sharing economy is founded on the principle that limiting ownership reduces marginal costs because the cost of production storage etc. is mitigated from the equation.
To return to the power drill analogy, a low-end model will cost you around $100, which means that every minute of use is around just under $8. Unless your drill doubles up as a cocktail-maker, this seems like an enormous waste of money. In comparison, the average electric drill on Fat Lama will cost you less than $8; really it’s a no-brainer.
Make Some Moral Money
Aside from the obvious social benefits, you can turn your underused belongings into hard cash, with virtually no effort.
We have all made some questionable purchases. Whether it’s that DSLR you promised your parents you were going to use or that sound system that never get used because of you neighbours. Now they don’t have to be an ugly reminder of the lost money but active assets that can start paying for themselves. Often the money made from these items can far exceed their original price, with some users earning up to $5000 dollars a month, more than the minimum wage in any country.
These are just a few examples of the way in which renting can impact your life for the better.
Right now it’s the fastest growing sector but the possibilities are infinite. What I hope you take away from this is that being an ethical consumer doesn’t have to be a bleak future of Spartan self-control but rather a re-imagining of the way goods flow today. Clean consumerism is not a dream, it’s right in front of us.