It began with a puppy.
We had set out to adopt a dog, and for anyone who’s had puppies (or children for that matter) you know they grow quickly. So rather than head to the local Petco and shell out a ton of cash for devices that we’d grow out of of – I decided to head to Craigslist. The search was for a puppy crate, and there was no shortage of choices.
Big ones. Small ones. New and Used. Lots in my neighborhood – and cheap.
Why? Because I suspect like me, people are increasingly thinking about the terrible waste of putting good usable things in the landfill. Sure it’s nice to have the cash - but that’s not why we buy, or sell on Craigslist.
An hour later I had a crate, $20 and virtually brand new. A day later we had a puppy, a wonderful mixed breed hound. But once we were home, we faced the fact that our $20 crate was too small for the wonderful dog. So, back on Craigslist we went – selling the too small crate ($20) and buying a new one ($20).
Our puppy has a new home.
But the simple act of sharing rather than tossing in the trash doesn’t need to have money involved at all.
Craigslist has a section called “Free” – and free is what it sounds like. It’s something you don’t need that you think someone else might use. I had some great chrome shelves with wheels – called Metro Shelving. They cost a bit – but I didn’t need them. Posted on Craigslist under ‘free’ and received 130 requests.
Most of them where pretty boring – emails like:
Is this still available? If so you can reach me at xxx-xxx-xxxx. I can go and pick up tomorrow afternoon.
Hi, I am interested on the metro-shelving ,let me know - thanks Arnaldo.
Hey still available. The cart?
Would LOVE this to dry paintings in my Kindergarten class! Eric
Guess who got the shelves? Eric and his Kindergarten class…. hands down.
In the sharing economy – telling a good story makes all the difference.
Which brings me to drones. When Amazon announced they were testing drones to deliver packages, the world sat up and took notice. FedEx replaced by autonomous flying robots? George Jetson’s era was about to arrive. But Sam Lessin, startup entrepreneur at Drop.io and now a product lead at Facebook saw the future of Amazon’s drones differently.
As Sam sees it: ”It will be cool when drones can deliver something to you in 30 min… it will be much much cooler when the drone can pick it back up when you are done with it. Drones (and self driving cars) are the key to the ‘sharing’ economy where people don’t have to ‘own’ anything anymore… they can just requests things when they need them, get them instantly, and return them when they are done… that is what will really change the world.”
In fact, as my friend and colleague Lisa Ganksy explains it – we’re already deep into the “Mesh” economy of sharing with businesses like “Zipcar, Netflix, Velib bike sharing, Profounder, swap.com, Kickstarter and many others–are using mobile and social networks to make it easy to have access to what we need, without having to own it.”
In her book ”The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing” she explains: “ the implications of the Mesh for the Earth are, of course, enormous. Every time we share something rather than own it ourselves, we reduce the stress on the planet. That could make the critical difference as the global population continues to grow. ”
So, will a flying BezosBot help kick start the sharing of things, rather than the sale of things? It could be. But Lessin is quick to point out that will have a dramatic impact on our world and our economy; ”More efficiency of using things means we need less stuff.” says Lessin. “
Needing less stuff means that the amount of stuff we make (and sell) will decline a lot. This doesn’t just go for cars (self-driving cars / Uber = we need less cars = less revenue for car companies) — once we get autonomous delivery right the whole ‘cash’ economy should shrink.”
So, borrowing a puppy crate might be a whole lot better than buying and selling one. But either way – when it comes to shoes… those I need to buy. Because the puppy has chewed through two pairs of mine already.