Carpe Diem

Collaborative consumption: the new rental/share economy

I’ve posted before about the new phenomenon of “collaborative consumption” and how we’re increasingly becoming more of a “rental economy,” where people can now rent just about anything they need from somebody else: their bathroom, their couch for an overnight stay, designer neckties (and bow ties and cufflinks), their driveway, their private automobiles, their toys, their clothing/costumes/maternity clothing/accessories/jewelry, party/event equipment, fine art, household items and tools (vacuum cleaners, iPads, tents, printers) etc. and the list goes on and on….

There’s now a Collaborative Consumption Hub website, and a book titled “What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption,” so it’s a trend that seems to be growing in popularity and gaining momentum.

A Wall Street Journal article today features five new services that are being offered in what’s being called the new “share economy.”

1. The web-based company EatFeastly “connects hungry eaters with passionate cooks,
offering authentic meals prepared and served in a cook’s home,” and is currently available in Washington DC, San Francisco and New York City.  The WSJ article highlighted a “mac attack” dinner with three flavors of macaroni and cheese: garlic-crusted, goat cheese tomato, and curried, recently offered for $19.80 per person in a private Washington, D.C. home.

2. Did you get some lousy holiday presents? Well, you can re-gift/exchange them at, which describes itself as “a magical place where people share things with friends,” and claims that “sharing is more fun than shopping.”

3. is a “movement of group of big-batch baking mothers. Mothers come together regularly in their local neighborhoods and cook one big batch meal each. At the end of the session the big batch meal is divided up amongst each mother who then goes home with a range of freshly cooked meals for the week.”

4. Need a new dress? Try 99dresses Inc., an online marketplace where you can buy/sell/exchange clothing and “gain access to an infinite closet and you’ll never have to wear the same thing twice.”

5. Not ready for the commitment of being a full-time dog owner?  Want to borrow a “temporary dog” and get paid for it? At you can board a dog in your home and get paid for it.

When Greg Beato reviewed the book “What’s Mine is Yours” for Reason Magazine in 2011 (“Pimp Your Ride: Why own what you can rent? And why not rent out what you own?“), he made the following insightful comment:

“Just a few years ago, President George W. Bush was still touting “the ownership society” as the surest path to prosperity and personal autonomy. But that was before we could easily search our cellphones for the nearest power drills, sedans, and spacious Manhattan closets for rent. What we really want, sharing evangelists suggest, is access, not ownership. And when we can use the mobile Web to pinpoint sharable goods, the burdens of ownership—which include maintenance, storage, and eventual disposal—begin to outweigh the benefits in many cases.”

Bottom Line: For those who want “access” and not ownership, the new “collaborative consumption” and “rental/share economy” movement is sure opening up lots and lots of new possibilities, and it’s just getting started. A March 2011 Time Magazine article identified collaborative consumption as one of the “Ten ideas that will change the world.”

HT: Sprewell, who suggested a collaborative food sharing service in a comment on CD in 2011! 

15 thoughts on “Collaborative consumption: the new rental/share economy

  1. I’m not sure “collaborative” equates to “sharing” but it’s in the right church if not the right pew.

    But it’s not THAT NEW… consider timeshare condos, rental cars, rug shampooers, etc.

    but I have another thing to add to this general idea and that is EBAY where people can sell stuff instead of putting it in the basement…

    also.. charities like GOODWILL have gotten into the “stuff” recycling business big time in the last few years.

    so this is not “sharing” in the same real-time “collaborative” sense as it is “sharing” by passing ownership on to someone else as long as the product still has a use.

    this is affecting the sales of new stuff.

    for instance, someone might have an older model GPS and want a newer model.

    but they can’t bear the thought of getting a new one and putting the old one on a shelf to gather dust since it is still “perfectly good”.

    Enter EBAY onto the scene where you can will the flick of a “mouse” ….”share” that perfectly good GPS with another person and get a few bucks for it also.

    the downside of this is that GPS manufacturers (in addition to dealing with cell phone competition) now find less and less market for entry level GPS units because you can buy such a thing cheaper on EBAY than from them.

    this is not an advertisement for EBAY. There are other sites for sure but the idea that you can now sell a used item – fairly easily to a huge national market – as opposed to a much smaller market has great appeal – as well as killing the local paper want-ad business.

  2. Markets in everything:

    “…access, not ownership”

    When the supply curve crosses the demand crosses the sharing curve then: access.

  3. I see juandos has already expressed my concern about welcoming strangers into ones abode for supposedly innocent purposes in that earlier CD thread.

    At 9/17/2011 12:11 PM, Blogger juandos said…

    CLOO, sounds like a great way for those who want to case places that might be ripe for burglary…..

    Question: If I rent my bathroom or my couch does my private home become a “public accomodation” subject to the Civil Rights act of 1964? Must I conform to ADA standards for handicap access?

  4. Ahhh yes, “collaborative consumption” is working for the collectivists, eh?

    I could understand this for high end items but for a car, a bathroom, or a couch – no way!

    Sounds like a great set of vectors for disease…

    • It isn’t, Juandos. You are, I presume, voluntarily part of several collectives, including your family. I’m sure you are not a hermit who is categorically against collectives and voluntarily count yourself as part of several as humans are social animals. The problem isn’t collectives but forced collectives. Nothing about these voluntary sharing agreements plays into the hands of collectivists (who favour forced collectives).

      • re: ” The problem isn’t collectives but forced collectives.”

        of which most in the world are accomplished via majority vote of elected government.

        and “elected” who can (and sometimes are) voted out for their votes for more regulation or higher taxes.

        using the word “forced” to connote governance carried out by representative govt is …. well.. it’s a weird way of dealing with the reality of it.

        what would ask what form of governance would, in fact, not have some form of collective policies if there is actually a governing body and/or leadership – elected or not.

        what other choices would there actually be and are there any current examples of it – on the planet?

        • You are a great communist. If you have no idea why I say that, then you are ignorant (not news on this blog) and that makes you an even better communist.

          • re: a communist?

            because I merely point out that the majority of governments on the planet have some form of top-down laws and regulations?

            and I ask you and others to point out places that don’t have this kind of governance that “forces” collectivism?

            I’m not sure you really know what Communism really is because by your definition of “forced collectivism” – virtually every nation on earth fits that definition.

            Your view seems to be that any law that forces you to do something you don’t want to do is – communist.

            wait for it…… here comes the perfunctory name-calling spasm…

          • Yeah, Methinks, you should listen to someone like Larry who *knows* something about communism instead of relying on your own personal experience.

            “Are you gonna believe me, or your lying eyes?”

      • You are, I presume, voluntarily part of several collectives, including your family. I’m sure you are not a hermit who is categorically against collectives and voluntarily count yourself as part of several as humans are social animals“…

        Well methinks you’re right in one sense but ‘sharing‘ part regarding cars, couches, bathrooms, etc is still a non-starter for me personally…

        As for being a hermit, well in my old age I’m beginning to understand and maybe even appreciate some of the potential upsides to a hermit type of lifestyle…:-)

  5. Nice article, another for your list is

    Connecting owners of boats and more with those looking to rent. Everyone is insured, renters save while lowering the expense of owning expensive “grown-up toys”.

    • unfortunately with rentals – there is that thing known as adverse selection.

      you attract people who have no pride of ownership and do not exhibit the same care of equipment as an owner would.

      that’s the big issue with a lot of rentals and one reason why rental car companies have draconian requirements in their contracts.

      People who have trouble getting insurance because they already have a an assembled a history of damage will seek out rentals.

      so when we say “collaborative consumption” there is an implication that all users are “good” users and real world experience shows otherwise.

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