Collaborative Consumption: Can Social Media Save the Environment?

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Can a social media website really save the environment? The short answer is of course not. On its own a social media website like Facebook needs energy to power its severs and resources to make its reality a success. Even if the company were to power everything through renewable energy; its existence in itself wouldn’t do anything to benefit the environment.

But social networks bring like-minded people together and it’s these people that can make a change that will benefit the environment. The monstrous success of Facebook and Twitter has left little room on the field for new players which has led to a new boom in social media the collaborative consumption movement.

It’s sometimes referred to as the “what’s mine is yours movement” and the start-ups that are fueling it hope to use the internet to connect people with people rather than people with companies. Here are just a few examples that I think you’ll enjoy.

StreetBank (Lending)
Streetbank is a UK-based community-centric network. Let’s say you need a hammer. Most people would instinctively go out and buy one. After all, a hammer isn’t that expensive is it?

What Streetbank hopes to do is connect you, the guy who needs a hammer, with Dave down the street, the guy who has a hammer. Now you don’t need to buy a hammer, which means somewhere down the line a factory doesn’t need to make a hammer as demand for new products lessens. So you help the environment that little bit and maybe Dave will invite you in for a coffee as well.

Trusted Housesitters (Pet/Housesitting)
One of the big areas in which travel leaves its footprint on the environment is in creating new buildings; namely holiday homes and hotels. These are rarely if ever filled to capacity and so rarely if ever make their damage to the environment worthwhile.

Enter Its founders hope that it can reduce demand for new holiday homes and hotels by encouraging homeowners to take on live-in house and pet sitters to look after their homes while they’re away. It’s a creative concept but one that pet owners, given the costs they normally face in putting their pets in a kennel, are warming to very quickly.

Get Around (P2P Car Rental)
You need to rent a car for a few hours, what do you do? You visit a major car rental agency and they’ll give you the keys to one of their many vehicles that they currently have available.

Or you could rent the car from someone who’s not using theirs. Most of us who own vehicles have periods throughout the day and week when we don’t use our cars and often those times will coincide with when others need to rent them. What hopes to do is connect those two groups, thus reducing the demand for more car rental companies and in turn the creation of more vehicles. They also have iPhone app for this service…see our free environmental apps page for the link.

eRideshare (Ride Sharing)
Most of us who commute by car do so with at least one empty seat if not four. That’s what ride-sharing communities like eRideshare hope to put a stop to. If two people share a car, that’s one less car on the road, which means less fuel reliance and less Co2 emmissions.

Car pooling start-ups are also now also starting to expand into new niches such as taxi sharing, with start-ups like hoping that they can make a dent in the environment as more and more people use their website.

From ride-sharing and taxi-sharing to hammer lending, there are an increasing number of start-ups in the social media field which hope to have a beneficial impact on our environment. App coming soon.

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