Some businesses may feel threatened by the sharing (collaborative) economy but it is time for our society to change its view on the importance of owning 'things'.
The UN Sustainable Development Goal 12 (SDG12) focuses on ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns. With this in mind, we need to consider sharing a little more and owning a little less to help us achieve this goal.
According to the UN, the world population is projected to reach 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100. When I think of these numbers, I worry about the increasing amount of jobs, food, water and energy needed, as well as the increasing amount of waste that will be created. I worry about the increased number of people moving from farmlands to cities and the pressure that it will create on transport, city infrastructure and living quarters.
I was raised in a society that prides itself on owning things. Having a house in the city, a house in the countryside, a car or two, music and movies were not only norms – they were expectations. The more you owned, the higher your perceived status. Although it may still be like this in many places around the world, I am happy to see the younger generation behaving differently and taking advantage of newly available sharing services.
It took several generations to realise that owning a second house that you use only 10-20 percent of the time, or a vehicle that you only drive occasionally, makes little sense financially. Think of all the ‘things’ that may now be shared. Your house, car, boat, bicycle and sports equipment such as surfboard and skis that you seldom use.
Perhaps you have already disposed of your DVDs, books and CDs. After all, it’s so easy to watch movies on Netflix, read books on a Kindle, and listen to your favourite music on Spotify.
Think of all the ‘things’ you currently own that could be shared. For example, you can now provide access to your idling computer power (CPU) for scientific research (www.climateprediction.net). The designer evening dress you paid thousands for and will only wear once may be shared with others (www.covetella.com). Art management isn’t about subscribing to online collections, but rather having art collections that can be shared among members. Instead of investing in an expensive art collection you can now subscribe to one (www.artmgt.com).
We can all start to significantly reduce what we own while retaining access to more than we ever had before. It’s a phenomenon that will spread to almost every item with varying speeds. It may take one or two generations for our society to change its view towards the ownership of ‘things’ but I believe strongly that, in order to sustain a population of 11.2 billion people, we must reduce our footprint on the planet.
Thailand’s late King Bhumibol Adulyadej showed remarkable vision when he introduced the ‘sufficiency economy’ philosophy to the country. This is a philosophy that many developed nations should learn from and implement if they wish to secure a sustainable future.
It’s never too late for spring cleaning and for you to donate what you may no longer use to others who may still find those items useful.
Till next time,
Chief Executive Officer
Pacific Asia Travel Association / www.pata.org