Infographic Of The Day: A Tour Guide To Collaborative Consumption

Imagine other people paying you to use your things when you don't need them. That's the genius of collaborative consumption.

You might own some tools that you never use, or perhaps you have a backyard that you just don't have the time to do anything interesting with. Until recently, those pieces of property mostly served as nagging reminders that you didn't have enough time to do everything you wanted to do. Today, they can look like revenue streams, not wastes of money.

Using goods only when needed is a fundamental cultural change.

Ideas about ownership of property are slowly starting to change in this country. The success of Zip Car and of bike sharing programs in a few major cities are the vanguard of a host of different "collaborative consumption" services and businesses that allow people to monetize their own unused resources, or to find ways to get goods and services without purchasing them. This infographic shows some of the stuff that might be lying around your house that are just profits waiting to happen — and all the start-ups trying to help you along:

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This infographic was made by the venture fund Collaborative—which invests in collaborative consumption businesses—and the Startup America Partnership in order to help illustrate the economic benefits of this idea. (Full disclosure: I used to work with the founder of Collaborative.)

Your house, it turns out, is full of things that could be making you some cash. Your car can be shared with your neighbors via RelayRides. Your driveway itself can be rented out as a parking spot through Park At My House. Your tools, video games, sports equipment, even clothes, are all monetizeable. How much can you get?

That's right, the average New York-based user of Airbnb (a site which lets users rent out their house like a hotel) makes $21,000 annually. That's a nice supplement to any income. You can also make $200 a month just by renting your video games out. And you thought that was a useless habit. Even if all you have is time, you can monetize that, too.

TaskRabbit lets you do small jobs for your neighbors. Most of those small jobs involve assembling Ikea furniture. So, if you're good with wordless instructions and a hex wrench, you could rack up $15,000 in earnings doing odd jobs.

But all this talk about the money you could make is just part to grab your attention. What's truly important about collaborative consumption is much more world-altering than just supplementing people's incomes. We own far too much stuff, a symptom of our aggressive consumer culture. If you don't need to buy a circular saw or a leaf blower just to use them once a year, but can use one when you need it, it could fundamentally impact how we consume. So, while making money on your unused stuff sounds great, imagine not having to buy the stuff in the first place.

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3 Comments

  • ShareMyStorage

    private ownership is not a dirty concept...but greedy ownership is!  if you own it then share it and make better use of it reducing environmental damage at the same time.  consumption has reached epic proportions so the aim of collaboration is not to eradicate it but stymie its flow. 

  • Abe Karl-Gruswitz

    The "how to make a buck" by sharing spin is a little odd and disingenuine to me.

  • Vinod K Raju

    Very nice article!

    "Collaborative consumption" is not only relevant but a necessity, especially with regards to managing critical resources. This not only makes economic/financial sense but also holds good with an ecological perspective.

    "Renting it out" when not being used by an individual is one thing, but maximizing certain resources even when you are using it is the key. Even more so, when we start considering resources and parameters such as fuel and carbon emission. An example in this direction is the concept of long distance carpooling.

    BlablaCar.com is one such site active in Europe, which enables the population to do this. It  not only allows you to collaborate, but also to maximise the use of fuel, a critical resource. It also helps in tracking how much CO2 emission you have cut down.