Collaborative Consumption and The Sharing Economy

Earlier in February I was excited to attend a talk at the HiVE by April Rinne, Chief Strategy Officer of Collaborative Lab, on “Collaborative Consumption and The Sharing Economy” presented by an amazing collection of local businesses and organizations (Board of Change, VanCity, Modo, the Sharing Project, and CityStudio to name a few…)SHARINGeconomy 3

“Also known as collaborative consumption and the collaborative economy, the Sharing Economy is the bartering, exchanging, sharing, renting, trading, borrowing, lending, leasing and swapping of goods, services, time, capital, experiences and space by individuals, institutions, businesses and communities.”(Vanessa Timmer)  Sharing resources means spending less – time, money, energy, natural resources, etc.

I hadn’t put much thought into the sharing economy before, but as the talk progressed I realized just how large a piece of my life and work were integrated into this new economic model. Within the last month I had used Modo to share a car, AirBnB to book a room, and Craigslist to buy a desk. I was even more amazed at how much Recycling Alternative’s community initiatives contribute to shared resources, and I started to tally them….

The Food Scraps Drop Spot is the first example that came to mind – RA shares their trucks, drivers, and admin time with the Vancouver Farmer’s Market, Gordon Neighbourhood House, the West End Food Network and countless volunteers to give Vancouverites access to small-scale food composting services.

Our Social Fabric also makes use of RA’s vehicles (and owner) to redistribute unused and recycled fabrics to individuals and businesses.

The Vancouver Biodiesel Co-op houses its pump at the RA yard, where our trucks share the recycled product with other Vancouver drivers looking for an alternative fuel source.

Across the street from our office, the Commissary Connect sees many of the city’s food trucks prepare their food in a shared commercial kitchen space. In exchange for composting all their food prep scraps and recycling their containers, the food trucks take turns bringing snacks, lunches and juice to RA to feed our drivers and warehouse staff.

We recently started a shared marketing project through Leverage Lab – combining resources with other local business with shared values to market each other’s services. Along with Fairware, Novex Delivery Solutions, Mills Office Productivity, and Frogbox, we shared our problems, challenges and collaborated on solutions.

In a couple of months we will be moving into a shared work space with United We Can. The “Green HUB” will be an on-going project in which we are not only sharing office and warehouse space, but finding new ways to combine our resources and hopefully bring more and more green businesses into the area.

For more information about the sharing economy check out this great blog by Vanessa Timmer, “The Sharing Economy: It’s more than we think

Some examples of the exchange with our neighbours – composting for flowers and food! (From Garden Party Flowers and Holy Perogy!)

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