We were all taught at a young age to share with others, yet as we became adults, individual ownership and being self-sufficient were considered more desirable and noteworthy. As a person who lived the American lifestyle, I feel ashamed to have owned items that were only used a few times a year – such as power tools, a sewing machine, a ladder, snowboards, bicycles, and a guest bedroom. These things served more time gathering dust than being put to use. On a per-use basis, not only did I pay an exorbitant price for them, but they added to my carbon footprint and took up valuable resources and storage space. At that time, I didn’t realize how wasteful it was, until I read a statistic that said if everyone in the world lived like an American, we would need more than 4 earths, and that one American consumed as much energy as 31 Indians and 370 Ethiopians. Thankfully, I have changed my ways, and more and more people are coming around to this new paradigm of sharing, which is helping to save money, time, resources, and above all, the environment. The Sharing Economy is all about turning cities and urban centres into cooperative villages, perhaps akin to the Kampong villages I would hear elders reminisce about. This type of peer-to-peer sharing makes it possible for anyone, who has an item or service to lend or sell, to become a microprenuer. Empowered by technology and social networks, this new business model and social movement promotes sustainability and community bonding while eliminating waste and improving efficiency. Recently, a new business association was formed called the Sharing Economy Association of Singapore. Although there are still legal, regulatory, and cultural barriers to this type of business, there have been many success stories of such businesses originating from America (ironically), with Airbnb being the most notable. Although some of these business are quite disruptive to existing industries, I feel that this movement is here to stay. Here’s some ways you (and your wallet) might benefit from it:
1. Renting a room for your next holiday or short term stay. Airbnb allows a person to rent a night’s stay directly from the hosts of a property. In many cases, the rooms are cheaper, and offer more amenities and comfort than a regular hotel room. You also get more choices of where to stay. The site has over 500,000 listings in 33,000 cities and 192 countries. I’ve seen listings for a night’s stay on a yacht, complete with breakfast on deck. That’s a unique experience you would never get at a hotel. Additionally, hosts can provide you with other resources and information. Singapore-based startup PandaBed offers a similar service, but caters to Asian travelers and property owners. They have listings all over Singapore and elsewhere in Asia, including Manila, Phuket, and Bali. Of course, if you have a spare room and like to entertain, you could also list your room for rent and make some money on the side so long as it’s allowed (if you live in a HDB flat, the renting and subletting of rooms is restrictive. Please see the guidelines here).
2. Renting a car. Instead of renting from one of the large rental corporations, such as Avis and Budget, you can now rent directly from the owner. iCarsClub provides hourly rentals of vehicles, starting as low as $7 an hour. They offer insurance as well as 24-hour roadside assistance. There are no registration or membership fees. You can search for vehicles based on your current location. Who knows? Maybe you will end up renting from your neighbor. If you’re interested in carpooling, ShareTransport is another site where you connect with others who share the same commute route and times. You can choose to carpool or share a taxi, which will not only help to ease congestion, but will save you money. In addition, if your boss wants you to stay late, you now have the excuse, “Sorry I can’t, my ride is here.”
3. Sharing household items. With our dense urban living situation, it just doesn’t make sense for each household to own a ladder, a drill, bicycle pump, or even a trolley, and deep fryer. These things could all be shared. You might find these items for rent on Rent Tycoons. And if you have any items just laying around, you might want to post an ad for them on their site to earn some extra cash.
4. Sharing services. Services such as baby-sitting, dog-walking, grocery shopping, errand-running, confinement care, eldercare, personal training, cooking services, tuition, beauty services, and IT help can all be outsourced. Blockpooling is a local platform that offers ways for residents to connect and share services, lend and borrow items, and exchange information, all while enabling people to earn extra income. Unlike other ad hoc service sites such as Task Amigo and Flag A Hero, Blockpooling uses geolocation as its primary grouping, since they believe that many services are best performed by those who live nearby. The company believes in the importance of connecting and sharing resources on a neighborhood level. I’ve since repented for my years of overconsumption, and am now living what I consider to be a more sustainable lifestyle. After selling or donating all my seldom used items, I’ve become more free. I’ve come to realize that I didn’t really own the items; they owned me. Their upkeep, maintenance, and required storage space, were all in a sense, a burden that I was happy to free myself from. Now, if I ever need something, I tap into the sharing economy.