Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

Trend Alert! Collaborative Consumption

The recession happened for any number of reasons — and I'm an environmental reporter, damn it, not a business reporter — but its undeniable that the U.S. went on a spending spree. That had negative impacts on our national wallet, but it also has a negative environmental effect — all that stuff builds up. That's why the trend towards "collaborative consumption" — technology-enabled sharing and renting of goods — is one of the most heartening environmental trends. Startups like allow users to arrange trades of books, movies and CDs, letting us share media rather than buy it. And new sites like SnapGoods can help you rent stuff — iPads, robot vacuums, camping equipment — from others in a peer-to-peer fashion. You can even rent out your car — or rent another person's car — by the hour with RelayRides. It's green, but it also appeals to the desire for community we all feel. That's win-win.