Ask any bunch of kids ‘who wants to save the world?’ and chances are you’ll get a pretty decent show of willing, waving hands.
I think we’ve all kind of figured out by now that humankind messed up a little bit along the way. Perhaps we were ignorant, perhaps just naive – or perhaps we just had no idea that we could collectively have any kind of serious impact on this great big planet!
Anyway, we’re starting to get our house in order at last, and Sharebay is doing its bit to help. Every item or service that you share on Sharebay is a win for you, and win for the planet – and of course a win for the person receiving.
The more we share, the less resources we use and the greater the sense of community connection we experience when we volunteer for each other.
But can sharing actually save the world?
Well, yes. Maybe it can.
Today on Sharebay and other similar sites, many people are making good use of the sharing philosophy, sharing things they no longer need and offering skills in their spare time. Wins all round, but is there a future for sharing that’s not just the preserve of people who can afford the luxury of it?
Is it possible that, rather than just sharing their unwanted excess, people could actually intentionally set out to provide for others in the same way as regular businesses do – except by sharing it freely?
This is the basis of what's known as an Open Access Economy – and if widely adopted could indeed change the world by radically reforming the way we access goods and services.
Imagine, for example, that you intentionally grew more tomatoes than you could use to share with your neighbours because your neighbour was growing potatoes for everyone in the community too. Now expand that idea out to every product and service – everyone a producer and consumer in one, applying their particular skills and resources to support the community. Imagine, if we achieved that, how much more connected and happier that community might be?
This might sound far-fetched, but it’s almost what we do anyway – albeit through the medium of money. The reason we prefer to do it through money is because money provides us a token of trust. You don’t have to worry if someone is not reciprocating, as your money guarantees you purchasing power to access the things you need – assuming you have the ability to sell your goods or labour for it, that is.
But, when you think about it, money doesn’t really work that well in modern society either. We have things like inflation where the value of our money just keeps going down; we have huge unassailable debt; we have greed and corruption where people with the most tend to get the most and the people with the least get the least; we have great disconnection between people, unemployment, poverty and even death from curable diseases. Add to that massive concentrations of power and wealth over which we have little control and who can strip away our means of income with the stroke of pen.
What’s good about community sharing is that it’s distributed. Everyone chips in a little bit rather than some unaccountable conglomerate dictating the local economy. The power rests with the people equally. This is called a redundancy fail-safe. In other words, when lots of agents are involved, we can withstand a high amount of failure. Whereas, relying on a single or small number of agents to provide for people leaves them vulnerable. Given a chance, this kind of open access economy could prove far more robust than traditional trading societies.
I believe this kind of society is some day possible, and that it can happen through people like you and me casually sharing our excess today, but laying a foundational precedent for sharing vital goods and services among our communities in the near future.
Happy sharing! 😀