Missed the introduction? Read up over here!
The current system needs us to spend. Not just to spend, but to spend our money on products from all sorts of benefactors. Statistics of spending power and capacity are like a heart monitor for our economies health. We appear to have a low heart rate…
Is that justified? Sharing, borrowing, lending and selling our own stuff can not be found back in these statistics. While this is becoming an increasing segment of our economic behavior. Does this mean we should upgrade our heart monitor or get a new one?
Thou Shalt Consume!
Our current system is still incredibly prone to endorse consumerism. Buy your way to happiness! But what does that lead to? Well not a very lasting variety of happiness really. Isn’t this exactly what WALL-E is warning us about? Isn’t an economic crisis like this one necessary to make us see what kind of greedy sloths we might become if our economy just keeps growing and growing (which doesn’t seem very logical to begin with).
Recent decades gave rise to consumerisms younger brother: the industry of marketing. We don’t really ‘need’ products anymore. There are plenty of choices in almost every product category, just look at most isles in the supermarket. There is nothing wrong with having choices. We all want choices. But sometimes it can get out of hand. Or am I the only one who gets lost over at the shampoo section? And at what point do these choices stop being useful and just simply distracting.
How does marketing even work? Well simply buy telling stories about how people will become happier, better, funner, more exciting, prettier, cooler or sexier because of the product. But this also creates a side effect. A lot of the times when we are marketed to our instinctive desires we start believing that without those very products we are not happy enough, that we are not good enough, that we are not fun enough, not pretty enough and not cool enough. And so we buy the stuff to feel cool, happy, sexy etc. But those advertisements are still on our TV’s, billboards, websites and phones. So we are yet again told to be insecure by those very same advertisements that were used to endorse us to buy the product we already have. Marketing is not evil and there’s plenty of advertisers not feeding into this, but just try to count how often they do and how they do it. It is part of the DNA of our current economic system.
But is constantly buying new stuff really the best way to order our system. Do we really all need our own car? Do we all need a toolbox with 20 different electric devices most of us will use once or twice? Should we throw away our furniture without hesitation? Are our clothes worthless after we are done with them?
Dive into what?
The shared economy can bring lots of answers to some of our current societal enigma’s. There are terrific examples like swapping parties and dumpsterdiving. Swapping parties ask you to bring something you would like to trade and go there to see if you can swap it with something someone else has brought that you would like to have. Sounds like fun? It sure is!
Dumpsterdiving sounds like a terrible idea of what our less lucky global youngsters seem to be doing, but it’s actually a reconceptualisation of what we consider trash. Is the expiration date from our supermarkets a law or an estimate to never become liable? Does everything beside our dairy and meat become instantly toxic after this date or does most of it just get a little less tasty?
We throw away so much of our food even before it hits the supermarket and then we do it again when it doesn’t sell fast enough. I think we can all agree that there is an amazing sense of inefficiency lurking behind that system. We import our fish from some of the poorest countries while a lot of people starve to death over there.
I am not pointing this out to persuade you to donate to a good cause. I’m simply bringing it up to challenge ourselves to think of ways to change these systematic flaws and bugs, to think up ideas to make them more efficient and healthier. Dumpsterdiving is such an idea. Cradle to Cradle is such an idea. Swappingparties is such an idea. By innovating the system we will all profit from it. Thanks to the free market system it will naturally arise and grow. You can be part of it or you can be left behind. So let’s share some Dutch success stories.
The website to rent out your equipment or rent something to anyone in your neighborhood.
Need some furnity, some secondhand electrical appliances, second hand games or what else. Come and get it here.
Don’t throw that shitty worn out piece of furniture away just yet. Someone can use it. Don’t expect the best of the best to be on here. But with no budget it can be quite the interesting experience.
Bol.com is slowly expanding their assortment, trying to become the Dutch Amazon. But they have an interesting and accessible market in second hand books and movies. In the search results the always show if second hand versions are available.
They are parked everywhere throughout most cities. Just rent a car for the allotted time and you are good to go! No parking costs involved!
Want to give electric driving a go? Holland is the perfect location for electric cars because of our small and compact country you can reach most locations before the battery is dead!
No car, but need to get somewhere? Get a carpooldate. With the ease of the web and app user friendly interfaces nowadays there is no excuse anymore to not use this if you need a ride to a certain location.
These are just a couple of possibilities of making use of the shared economy. I’m very curious to hear what suggestions or findings you might have that could supplement this list. Let me know your hotspots in the comments!