Friday, July 29, 2011

Time to change? Sharing to consume, not owning to consume - and other ways to save the world!

Recently I was at a talk by Gary Gardner of the Resources Legacy Fund, where he was talking and discussing developments and trends within the whole area of sustainability and "green".

His talk sparked some thoughts and ideas in my mind that I think are important for brands and companies to think about.

Most of the thoughts were sparked by his comments about the "challenge of a full world". By which he means that the growth of population and reducing resources, means that we are facing a need to think more and more about how to manage within a world that is getting "full up".

It also made me think a lot about just how wasteful we are overall, and especially within developed Western markets. We are used to consuming, owning and buying - and we waste huge amounts of "stuff" (such as food, water, petrol and so on). We are driven and motivated to consumer and own things, in fact it is probably seen as a sign of success to consume and be seen to consume.

But this cannot be the way of the future..and 2 ideas really made me think:

Sharing to consume, not owning to consume

I was especially intrigued by the idea he spoke about of the emergence and growth of "sharing". For example, the car hire/ sharing service like Zipcars/ Streetcars where all around the city are cars that you hire by the hour. There are bike schemes in many major cities like Paris and London that do the same. The growth of equipment and tool hire.

What I find interesting about this concept, is that you can still consume and use - but you are reducing the amount of resources and waste by using only as and when you need it, and not by owning it. I wonder what and how we can expand this to many other areas and categories.

Wasting water and flushing resources away

The point that someone made is that there has been no real major revolution and innovation in toilets. We all flush away huge amounts of water. We cannot keep doing this. We need to rethink the whole process...

Unnessary centralization and movement

People are starting to question things like bittled water. Why are we putting watre in bottles and then shipping them all over, when in many markets water from the tap is safe, tasty and fine. I think we will all start to question the idea that we have moved production of many items many thousands of miles from where they are consumed, and we will find that the costs of fuel and the realisation of the imapct on the enviroment will lead us to all starting to look to and expect sourcing to become closer and more local again

Increasingly the consumer will expect us all to enable them to be less wasteful, and protect resources - but they do not really want to compromise on usage. So time to be clever and really innovative....


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