Embrace the Sharing Economy
Despite daily reminders of the effects of climate change, the shopping run up to Christmas gets longer each year. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in November, is widely regarded as the day that kicks off Christmas consumer spending.
The problem is marketing engines fire up earlier every year. Their goal is to create artificial demand for products, priming people for a pre-Christmas consumption frenzy. Sadly, the outdoor industry is no different…
To give you a bit more context, UK shoppers spent £4.8 billion in 2022 Black Friday sales.
A Waste Managed article says Black Friday 2023 is expected to produce 429,000 metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from product deliveries alone. That’s the same as 435 return flights from London to New York!
An article by the University of Leeds quotes a report that says “up to 80 percent of items—and any plastic packaging they are wrapped in—will end up either in landfill, incineration or—at best—low quality recycling, often after a very short life”.
Due to the continued cost of living crisis (which is actually more of an inequality crisis as the rich aren’t getting any poorer), spending is expected to drop by 18% in 2023. That’s right, despite increasing poverty, we’re being sold the story that we can buy our way out of this crisis.
But there is a better way… enter #CitizenFriday
In response Re-Action has started a campaign: #CitizenFriday, an antidote to Black Friday. It involves us using our agency as humans to connect with each other. It’s about using the power of the individual for the collective good. Citizen Friday is about sharing skills, learning crafts, swapping items, building community and reconnecting with the natural world. And, because it fosters positive action (unlike Black Friday), it doesn’t have to be limited to one day per year. Every Friday can be Citizen Friday.
There are 3 elements to it. On #CitizenFriday we:
- Get out in the fresh air
We’re writing 3 articles giving you tips and ideas to embrace these concepts. This one is all about sharing.
Sharing is caring
Also known as collaborative consumption or peer-to-peer-based sharing, the sharing economy is a model in which individuals rent, lend, resell or donate goods. The central idea is that we don’t all need to own everything. It also allows individuals to monetise the things that they own. We’re already comfortable with the sharing economy in certain sectors, such as holiday rentals and car sharing. Why stop there though? Why not rent, loan or borrow outdoor equipment?
Outdoor gear is hard wearing and each adventure can often require completely different equipment. Take camping as an example. A family holiday in Devon requires a different tent to the one used on a hiking expedition in North Wales. You might do both of these trips, and you may only do them once a year. If that’s the case, could you rent a tent or gain income by renting out your tent? This shows how the sharing economy maximises resources and can also put money in your pocket.
This sharing economy gives us agency by allowing us to create income from our belongings. The sharer is not the only person to gain agency though. The person borrowing the equipment is able access to more affordable equipment allowing them to get into the outdoors. The model also allows them to have more choice and an opportunity to try equipment before they buy.
The sharing economy puts service and community above profit and is based on trust and collaboration. It fosters transparency and honesty, helps build community, create connections and gets us away from faceless online shopping. It creates human interaction. If you’re renting a tent from a real person, they may also share valuable information about a trip, especially if you’re camping in the local area.
So how can you go about it?
Share your things / borrow items
Rather than a spending spree, how about a sharing spree? That means making something that you’re not using all the time available to other people. It could be a tent, a roofbox, a transceiver, a climbing harness, anything really. List it on a peer to peer sharing / rental site like Tentshare or KitUp. This allows you to earn money from your belongings, maximising their value.
Likewise, if you need something for your weekend activities, check if you could borrow it before buying. The chances are someone in your network has one you could borrow.
Renting items is a way of sharing. We don’t all need to own everything we want to use. This is especially true if we only need it a couple of times a year. Many of us already rent items like skis, so why not other things? Cirkel Supply Co., EcoSki, Tentshare, KitUp and The Little Loop all rent gear. Renting means you can use it and return it once you’re done with it, saving space and money. It’s also a low cost way of trying different items and models to see what suits you.
Sell or donate
If you’re not using something, why not list it for resale on Kidd3r, WhoSki.com, or ReWorn? You could also donate it to an organisation like Kitsquad or Preloved Sports? By doing this, your kit can have a second life and help someone, who may not be able to afford to buy new, access the outdoors. Ok, the person buying will technically be shopping, but this shopping experience comes with the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing you’re doing A LOT less damage to the planet than buying new.
Share your knowledge / expertise / experiences / time
Likewise, how about sharing your skills, knowledge and experience? If you know how to repair something, create something from waste or provide people with experience of the outdoors, share your skills and ideas to expand other peoples’ horizons.
Being generous with your spare time, however little you have, can make all the difference to someone looking for connection. So make that phone call to a friend or volunteer an hour or two to help a local community group.
- ACTUALLY saves you money (rather than pretending to)
- can also make you money in the process
- can prevent poorly-informed purchases. By borrowing or renting, you can try before you buy (and test whether you enjoy a new sport for example)
- keeps money in your community and out of the pockets of the big polluters
- stops unnecessary waste and slows down overproduction
- builds connections because it’s human to human
- saves you space
- gives you more options
If you embrace the sharing economy, don’t forget to post about it wherever you hang out on social and use the hashtag #CitizenFriday.