Is consumption the answer to a brighter future?

As Charles Leadbeater discusses, the 20th century was a time of spending and defined by credit, advertising and materialism but in the turn of the 21st century collaborative consumption started to change the economy and traditional trading idea’s surrounding community and sharing re-emerged [1]. This type of consumption is a healthy move forward for the economy in terms of reducing waste, dealing with over consumption and promoting the idea of sharing and utilizing resources efficiently.

TIME magazine names Collaborative Consumption as one of the top trends of 2010 [2]. After the financial crisis, people became more aware of their spending habits but collaborative consumption has been around long before the credit crunch. As a growing movement, collaborative consumption is becoming increasingly popular, as social networks become more utilized into daily life.

‘Living Social’ is one example of a collaborative lifestyle network. Living Social is the online source for discovering valuable local experiences. We inspire our members to find, share, and enjoy the best of their neighborhoods by connecting them with handpicked local businesses. [3]

The success of living social show that people not only want to save money but they also want to be social and remain connected with their local communities. This is good for the economy, as local businesses increase sales but also build good relationships with customers who in turn, have quick and easy access to special offers.

Another example of collaborative consumption surrounds the betterment of the environment by allocating resources through a rent system. It makes sense. If people are renting cars and electronic goods, this would lead to a reduction in waste and also carbon emissions.

Hubway is a bicycle rental system in Boston that is economical, sustainable and an easier (fun) way to travel around the city. With 60 stations, 600 bicycles and an eye towards expanding into Boston neighborhoods and surrounding communities, Hubway provides users with an accessible and green transit option [4]. This is a new business venture and could potentially transform society and the way people travel in the city.

Businesses are moving towards an experience economy where by the experience offered to the consumer is vital to its success and consumers are moving towards a sharing economy. Entering into this new economy, it is becoming more feasible now to see that the future could possibly be one that is moving towards a more green and sustainable one. Capitalism is still on the agenda of many powerful leaders in the business and government sectors but if consumers start to shift their thinking towards collaborative consumptions, and business respond, then perhaps a sharing society will prove more lasting than one built on heavy consumption and ownership.

[1] Botsman, R. & Rodgers, R. 2010, ‘Introduction: What’s Mine is Yours’, in What’s mine is yours: the rise of collaborative consumption, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, pp. ix-xxii.

[2] Bryan Walsh. 2010. The Top 10 Everything of 2010. [ONLINE] Available at:,28804,2035319_2034098_2034146,00.html. [Accessed 02 July 12]

[3] LivingSocial . 2012. Livingsocial Our Company. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 03 July 12].

[4] Hubway. 2011. Hubway. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 03 July 12].


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