Goodbye Hyper-Consumption, Hello Collaborative Consumption

09/14/2010 11:06 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A "big shift" from the

20th century, a time defined by hyper-consumption, to a 21st-century

age of


underway. The convergence of social technologies, a renewed belief in

the importance of community, pressing environmental concerns, and cost

consciousness are moving us away from the old top-heavy, centralized,

and controlled forms of consumerism toward one of sharing, aggregation,

openness, and cooperation.


now live in a global village where we can mimic the exchanges that used

to take place face-to-face but on a scale and in ways that never been

possible before. The inherent efficiency of the internet, combined with

its ability to create trust between strangers (two qualities the likes

of eBay and Freecycle have proven on steroids), has created an unbound

marketplace for efficient exchanges between producer and consumer, lender

and borrower, and neighbor and neighbor, with no middlemen in between.

As we explain in our upcoming book

Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption

The collaboration at

the heart of Collaborative Consumption may be local and face-to-face,

or it may use the Internet to connect, combine, form groups, and find

something or someone to create "many to many" peer-to-peer interactions.

Simply put, people are sharing again with their community--be it an

office, a neighborhood, an apartment building, a school, or a Facebook

network. But this sharing and collaboration is happening in ways and

at a scale never before possible, creating a culture and economy of

what's mine is yours.

Every day people are using

Collaborative Consumption--traditional sharing, bartering, lending,

trading, renting, gifting, and swapping, redefined through technology

and peer communities. Collaborative Consumption is enabling people to

realize the enormous benefits of access to products and services over

ownership, and at the same time save money, space, and time; make new

friends; and become active citizens once again.

So how big and far-reaching

is this emerging socioeconomic groundswell? Watch this.

The likes of Zipcar and Netflix

were started a decade ago and have rapidly become household names. But

what do the next generation of businesses based on shared resources

and reinvented market behaviors look like? We have picked four Collaborative

Consumption "hot ideas" that we believe will rapidly grow as we

enter a new era of consumerism market by trust between strangers, access

over ownership and the primacy of experiences over more stuff.

    Bike sharing systems such

    as B-Cycle and Bixi are great but the start-up and maintenance costs

    are high, making them a challenge to scale, especially outside of city

    centers. Social Bicycles (SoBi) uses GPS, mobile technologies, and a

    secure lock that can attach to almost any existing bike rack and personal


      Why is it a hot idea?

      SoBi is a smarter form of bike sharing at a third of the cost. "SoBi

      could be come a new form of personalized public transportation that

      changes the way people move through cities," explained founder Ryan


        How could the physical

        objects we own, from books to gifts to kitchenware, be transformed into

        social experiences? Through TRACKit tags, each embedded with unique

        QR barcodes, the online platform Itizen lets you tell, share, and follow

        the "life stories" of objects.

          Why is it a hot idea?

            With the advent of smart

            phones and code reader apps, we are just at the start of seeing how

            QR codes will transform our relationship to things. "Itizen has the

            potential to influence a shift in how people view their possessions,"

            founder Dori Graff commented.

              Zipcar brought the idea

              of car sharing to the mainstream, but what about suburbs? And why did

              we need to introduce new cars when there are millions already sitting

              idle on the streets for an average of 23 hours a day? Peer-to-peer car

              sharing provides the technology and insurance to enable car owners to

              share their cars with their neighbors for an affordable hourly fee.

                Why is it a hot idea?

                  RelayRides enables owners

                  and renters to use the "idling capacity" of personally owned and

                  underused cars. Not only does this enable car owners to make extra

                  money, but as founder Shelby Clark explains, "It gives the community

                  an affordable transportation option, making it easier to live a car-free


                    We all have books, DVDs,

                    games, and other media lying around our house that we are unlikely to

                    use again but can't quite bring ourselves to throw away. Swap marketplaces

                    are like for our unwanted media, enabling us to swap things

                    we have for the things we want.

                      Why is it a hot idea?

                      Swapping is an old market idea gaining new relevance through technology.

                      It helps people save money and eek out the use of items, which has a

                      direct impact on the environment.

                      • Group Solar Power
                        • The rapid growth of Groupon has shown the power of consumers banding together for discounts. One Block Off the Grid (1BOG) is applying the same idea to solar power. By using social media to get neighbors to group together they can negotiate massive discounts with trusted providers.

                            Why is it a hot idea?

                            Outside from reducing the hassles and costs of solar installation, once

                            a group of neighbors are in a collective there are other opportunities for

                            the group discount to be applied to other green improvements

                            SoBi, Itizen, RelayRides,

                            Swap, and 1BOG show how we can use social networks, smart grids, and

                            real-time technologies to reinvent outdated modes of business, leapfrog

                            over wasteful consumerism, and have the potential to fundamentally change

                            our consumer habits, for the better.

                            Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers

                            are the coauthors of

                            Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption

                            Check out the online hub for Collaborative


                            cool infographics, videos, stories, and resources for you to use and

                            share. You can even swap, barter, or gift your copy of What's Mine

                            is Yours
                            and track where it travels!

                            Excerpt from What's Mine

                            Is Yours by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers.

                            Copyright © 2010 by Rachel Botsman and Roo Rogers. Posted with permission

                            of HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt

                            may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the