The old becomes the new

By Lisa Fox | Oct 25, 11 09:41 AM

Sharing, swapping, renting and bartering are cool again! Technology is enabling these old behaviours and we are experiencing a Collaborative Consumption revolution!

Time Magazine has called it one of the ten ideas that will change the world.

Social Innovator, Rachel Botsman says it will define the 21st century.

But what exactly is “Collaborative Consumption”?

The term Collaborative Consumption refers to the age old behaviours of sharing, swapping, renting, bartering, which technology is now enabling in new ways.

We are on the brink of a flourishing Collaborative Consumption revolution. Technology is providing the tools and there is a growing desire to disrupt outdated modes of doing business. From a consumer perspective, Collaborative Consumption is desirable because of the global economic situation, the renewed belief in the importance of community, and an increased awareness of the environmental pressures our planet is facing.

The Collaborative Consumption revolution is a worldwide movement. It may have been slow to gain traction in Australia but it is now taking hold as more and more businesses and initiatives align with Collaborative Consumption principles.

One of the first types of Collaborative Consumption businesses to gain popularity in Australia were the car sharing schemes, such as GoGet (http://www.goget.com.au/), which enable consumers gain the benefit of a car, by renting it for as little as an hour, without actually having to own it outright. Another spin on this model is Drive My Car Rentals (http://www.drivemycarrentals.com.au/ ), which facilitates the peer-to-peer rental of cars. So now you can rent out your car to someone in your community when you don’t need it. 

eBay is the grandfather of online redistribution marketplaces. For over 15 years now eBay has been helping consumers to sell their stuff to each other. Other Australian sites that assist you to redistribute your used or unwanted stuff include Freecycle (http://www.freecycle.org/group/AU/), Ziilch (http://au.ziilch.com/), SwapitBaby (http://www.swapitbaby.com.au/) and The Clothing Exchange (http://www.clothingexchange.com.au/).

We are also seeing a move towards collaborative lifestyles, where people are coming together to share and exchange time, space, skills, and money. One of my favourite Australian examples is Mamabake (http://mamabake.com/), a big batch cookery group, where local mums get together once a week and cook one big batch recipe each. The batches are then divvied up amongst all the Mums at the end of the session. Landshare (http://www.landshareaustralia.com.au), which has been hugely successful in the UK, is also now in Australia and is helping to connect people who want to grow their own food, but don’t have the space, with people that are happy to share their land.

I am in total agreement with Time Magazine and Rachel Botsman that Collaborative Consumption will change and define our future world. It is a potent movement that empowers the individual and taps into our growing desires to be mindful and thrifty consumers; reduce our environmental footprint; and reconnect with the people around us. Let the era of collaborative consumption begin!


Lisa Fox is passionate about collaborative consumption.  She is the co founder of a new Australian peer-to-peer rental site, Open Shed (www.openshed.com.au) the place for Australians to rent each other’s stuff with confidence.

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