Less is More: Quality Not Quantity
I think a lot about our divisive societies and the constant war and strife around the world, while we absolutely must work together to solve our climate crisis. I don’t have the answer, but I think a sharing economy is a step in the right direction.
A sharing economy delivers the ability of individuals to rent or borrow goods rather than buy and own them. There is some argument around whether services like TaskRabbit and Uber are a part of the sharing economy, or a separate type better labeled the gig economy. Similarly, eBay and other platforms for selling used goods can be categorized as the second hand economy.1 I lump them all together under the Sharing label because they all prevent the production of more stuff… they all leverage products that have already been manufactured and require no new materials or emissions.
In his 2020 book, “The Longing for Less: Living with Minimalism,” Kyle Chayka reported that “the average American household possesses over 300,000 items.” I see it in my suburban neighborhood. The houses all have two car garages, but cars are parked in driveways because the garages are filled with stuff. Filled with old sporting equipment belonging to children now grown and gone. Filled with tripods, lawn furniture, luggage, power drills, tents and punch bowls.
Besides a garage sale, or donations to charity, it’s difficult to share stuff stored in a single family home. But what about communal living spaces? What about apartment buildings? This NYT article is about a new trend in apartment living. Geared toward thrift rather than luxury, it’s a way to declutter tight quarters and encourage tenants to participate in the sharing economy.
Living space inside each flat is reduced and common areas are expanded. The concept is that many of the items typically bought, used and stored in each individual apartment, are instead made available to borrow.
“Own less. Live more.”
The appliances, sporting equipment and various and sundry other items purchased for sharing are of high quality. Quality not quantity. Products purchased for use by many people are selected for their quality and durability. Price is less of an issue when the product will be used by so many. It makes sense to avoid purchasing cheap appliances or sporting equipment to share. They would soon fall apart and have to be replaced. So this business model increases demand for high quality, durable products and reduces demand for products made cheaply and designed to be replaced often (planned obsolescence).
It’s an example of thinking like crew members on Spaceship Earth… “How can we configure this to deliver optimum results for all of us?” Crew consciousness includes taking care of ourselves and our fellow crew members. Safety and community are achieved by meeting our common needs for clean air, fresh water, nutritious food, stable social structures and helpful tools.
We all need each other. We are interdependent. Our lives are better when we help each other, and we all have our unique roles to play.
We have urgent problems to solve… and we can solve them, but we must work together. One good place to start is a sharing economy.
Quality not quantity.
Service not product.
Less not more.
We not us vs. them.