The Shift Towards Collaborative Consumption

In the past fifty years, we have consumed more goods and services than in all previous generations put together.

September 2007 is when I posted an idea I had to start sharing things. It was called ATIC and the basic concept was that people could post items that they had for other people in their community to browse to borrow. I wanted to get my Sarnia church on board. No one used it. I’m sure there was a hundred reasons why, but as reality set in I started realizing that this was an up hill battle of helping change people’s habits of how they viewed their possessions. Different people loved the idea and it was replicated in a few different churches in Canada and the States. Sarnia is a tough city to experiment with anything new as it is. It’s a blue collar town and people are generally happy with the money they make, the things they have and their pace of life. The idea of changing habits isn’t welcomed as much as I hoped. However, this idea started to spread quite rapidly and now there are hundreds of different sites and companies started around the world to help facilitate this kind of sharing.

The world has been changing quite rapidly. The way that people view their things is changing as well. A few months ago I stumbled on this video by Rachel Botsman about the rise of collaborative consumption and started to see that she has made a case for projects like ATIC all over the world. Sharing is starting to become as natural as buying things and people are using the Internet to do it.

I found her book What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption by Rachel Botsman, Roo Rogers and have been enthralled by the amount of data they have collected on how the world is changing this way. From sharing cars to rooms to children’s toys, the shift is exciting.

However, the disappointing part of all this is that this is yet another example of how the church is not really leading culture at all. We are far behind in learning to appropriately respond to culture and lead an alternative lifestyle that models the kingdom of God. Where are churches in this shift? We are probably just moving at the same pace as everyone else as I am starting to see communities pop up around of Christians learning to view their things differently. We should be leading the way. Showing the world what it means when the kingdom of God is present.

Nevertheless, it’s exciting. It’s exciting to see more tools available to share and more ideas spreading so that we can replicate them in our local communities.

And when it comes right down to it, what most of us really want is, as legendary designer Victor Papanek put it, “the hole, not the drill.”

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