Necessity is the mother of invention, said someone wise once upon a time. In a world that’s getting faster, more competitive, and more expensive by the minute, a change in how we own goods and services was needed, leading to a new economic model. Sharing services make it easier for people to afford the use of expensive goods, like cars or sports equipment, without compromising too much of their budget. The sharing model has even been applied to other areas and keeps making life easier for many people. Besides contributing to a better economy, sharing presents many more advantages as well, from environmental and social perspectives.
In a way, we could say that sharing is the new black. If you also want to get trendy and are curious about these services – keep reading.
Technology has developed exceptionally a lot in the past years, which has influenced how we live and see the world. One of the advantages that technology of information and communication brought us is a new model of consumption based on the sharing economy. Sharing economy is basically built around the exchange and the sharing of goods, services, or resources, in collaboration between individuals. The ground thought is: if I have something that I don’t use all the time and I don’t mind sharing, I might just as well make it available for others to use it as well!
This was of course already a good idea before and our ancestors did a lot of sharing centuries ago. How come this model only (re)appeared in our lives now? The answer is technology! A few decades ago, renting a car involved a lot more work, phone calls or perhaps even visits to a few rental companies. Technology has made it all much easier and nowadays we are a few clicks away from our rentals.
Advantages of sharing services
Economical – The economic advantages are quite clear. Instead of owning something that I use once a year (like a pair of skis) or a few days a week (like a car), I can just rent it when I need it. Or I can rent it out to others and get some extra income myself.
Environmental – If we are sharing more, we are producing less and wasting less. When it comes to car rentals, we are also reducing the number of cars and parking spots needed in our cities. Not having a car, will also make the users think twice before they rent one. Do I really need a car to go to the supermarket 2km away? Maybe I’ll cycle or walk there and then take the bus back with my shopping. All these lead to a reduced carbon dioxide footprint.
Social – Sharing services are more affordable and make life easier for people with lower incomes, making our society a little fairer. Moreover, the goods are also usually well maintained and in good condition, making it safer for everyone to use.
Examples of sharing services
Let’s look at some examples
House sharing – the very first one!
Airbnb was probably the original advocate of a sharing economy service, revolutionizing the market of short-term accommodation. If I have a spare room, apartment or if I’m not going to use my house for the coming week, why not rent it out to tourists who need a place to stay for a few days? What started in 2008 with a few locations and rentals, has now grown worldwide and has around 6 million properties in 191 countries.
Another way of sharing accommodation is Couchsurfing. Here instead of renting out a space, one lends out a space at home (a sofa, a bed, or a whole room) for free. The biggest difference between the two is that on Airbnb there’s often a faceless interaction with the host, while couchsurfing claims to create a bond between the hosts and the visitors.
Owning a car is a must for many, especially those living outside of the city, but far from necessary for all. A few decades ago, if you wanted to use a car even if only a few times a week, you had to own the car. Renting cars was possible but annoying and bureaucratic, and definitely not something one wanted to do every week.
Times have changed and car-sharing services have made it super easy to rent a car for a few hours. It is as easy as checking if the bus is coming!
Besides the usual car rentals where you rent by day, there are two main different types of car sharing:
– Carpooling or short-time rentals, like Kinto, Aimo, Volvo on Demand, rent out cars by the hour. Perfect if you need the car for less than a day. These are companies that take care of the cars, are a bit everywhere around the big cities, and charge by time of rental. The price can include fuel or not. For instance, if you are driving a short distance and the car will be parked most of the time, e.g. to the supermarket and back, you will save more by paying a lower time rental and fuel on the side, than if you pay higher time rental with fuel included.
– private rentals, like GoMore, offer the chance to use or rent out private cars. The rentals are also done by time and the cars are owned privately, which influences their location. As a private owner, you can also join this service and rent out your own car when you are not using it.
A personal perspective
I’m myself a big user of these services and there’s a lot of advantages. The thought of having to worry about parking, car service, and changing tires gives me shivers. When I need a car for some shopping or for going somewhere where public transport is not available, I rent a car for a few hours. Most of the time I use Kinto share since it’s available in several places in my neighborhood. The cars are clean, modern, and safe. If I’m driving a lot of stuff, I can choose a bigger car. When I moved, I rented a van instead. All of this is still much more affordable than owning a car and having it every day in the garage. Plus it is worry-free. All I need to do is to check the app, book the nearest car, and drive away.
If you are still not sure if car sharing is for you, read more about the topic here.
There are some simple rules of thumb to help you. For instance, if you only need a car once a year, it is best to hire a car. If you don’t need a car daily, but still need it several times a month for shorter trips, then carpooling is perfect. If you need the car daily and drive long distances, it is best to own the car yourself.
Bicycle and electric scooters
If you don’t have a driving license or if you just want to move faster in the city, where cars are not really helpful, you can rent a bicycle or an electric scooter. Companies like Styr och Ställ (Gothenburg) and RideMovi (Stockholm) make it easy to rent bikes on demand. Similarly, companies like Voi, Bolt, Ryde, and Tier rent out small electrical scooters. You can find those a little bit everywhere and rent them via mobile apps. Easy peasy!
Kids grow in the blink of an eye and from season to season the clothes stop fitting – a parenthood nightmare. Jackets, shoes, and other outdoor clothing are expensive. Buying new clothes every year is therefore not an option. Re-using the items only works in families with several siblings or near cousins. If you are a Newbie in Sweden, you might not even know anyone that well from whom you can borrow clothes. So what’s the option?
Fortunately, nowadays, there are companies like Hyber and Hygglo. These rent out children’s jackets, overalls, shoes, and so on, which is very advantageous. The items can be rented for a few months and then sent back when the season is over, or the items become too small. The clothes are usually of good quality and are washed and taken care of before they move on to the next child.
In this way, parents can afford outdoor clothing in appropriate sizing without compromising quality. And we all know how important a good quality jacket is in the Swedish winter.
We all have that friend who has tried a bunch of different sports and never really got stuck with any of them. Their storage is usually full of different balls, racquets, skates, and other sports equipment. That’s not really useful or sustainable. Renting sports equipment is a better option when you (or your kids) are trying out a new sport or for season sports like skiing. Of course, one can rent skiing equipment from ski hotels, tennis equipment at tennis courts, etc, but those options are not always affordable or available for all sports.
Luckily, since 2013 we have Fritidsbanken, roughly translated as “the hobby bank”. There one can borrow sports and outdoor equipment for free for 14 days. Fritidsbanken exists in over 120 locations all over the country and claims to have rented out several million items so far! Among the items you can find, for instance, children’s bicycles, from balance bikes (without pedals) to larger ones, very useful in those first years of age, when the little ones outgrow everything so fast.
Sharing services are great for those things we use less often. Consider them before you make an important purchase and evaluate the pros and cons. Location is also an important aspect of sharing services. Some of these services might work better and be more available in the cities and not as much in smaller places. Many are also relatively new and constantly expanding, so even if they are not available where you live right now, they might be coming your way soon.
Keep an eye on them and remember that sharing is caring!