Small is the New Big: Ours is Better Than Yours

UTMbikeshare

Words by Rachel Young

“Collaborative consumption” may sound capitalistic, but it is a way to forego ownership by using/sharing something with a community. We’ve placed this warm and fuzzy name to something that we’ve had for ages; libraries are a good example of something that is shared within a community without the individuals having direct ownership of it. The sharing economy is a movement that has blossomed in recent years as ownership-shy consumers search for ways to augment their lifestyles without compromise, or unnecessary expense. After all, why buy a drill when all you need is a hole in the wall?

I’m an early adopter of these kinds of services and resources. I signed up for AutoShare when it was still relatively new in Toronto and have since also tried Zipcar and Car2go. I own coworking spaces and work from other spaces when I travel; I’ve used Swapsity and sometimes I barter for services. These are natural things for me to partake in because it just makes sense to me. I’m thrilled to see these kinds of services and resources available in Mississauga, too, with room for even more.

Bike-sharing and car-sharing are two of the most obvious examples of collaborative consumption that already exist in Mississauga. UTM BikeShare offers a free 48-hour bike rental and repair service available to students, faculty, and staff, and last spring AutoShare, a car sharing company with longstanding success in Toronto, returned to Mississauga after testing the waters 5 years ago, and is now set up near Square One, though I’m sure Zipcar and Car2Go will follow soon.

Speaking of cars—though not listed on their website—last summer Uber, (technically a software company that connects drivers with riders as a personal taxi service that has been plagued with bad press around the world and here at home) expanded to Mississauga in what the company called a “chronically underserved” market. It doesn’t stop there, either. Airbnb, which has over 1,000 listings in Mississauga, is a way to share the cost of a house or condo by renting out a room or the whole residence to travellers, and Couchsurfing, if all one can offer is a couch, has more than 1,600 Mississauga listings.

I like to see different kinds of collaboration happening, and sometimes it doesn’t require cash payment of services or product. Collaborative shoots at Acor Studio brings together models, makeup artists, fashion designers, and photographers for theme-based photoshoots. As they are “trade for” shoots meaning the collaborators trade their time and services for photos, it’s a great way to have fun with industry colleagues while padding the portfolio. The Port Credit Seed Lending Library is another great example of sharing a resource with the community, and one that doesn’t even cost money. The grand opening last month was a partnership with Ecosource and the Toronto Seed Library.

And so what’s next? Well, coworking for sure, as my frequent readers know that I’m building a community of freelancers to open a coworking space in Port Credit where member share the cost of a full office by paying a monthly membership. I could see a Mississauga equivalent of the Toronto Tool Library doing well and a permanent repair cafe. Meal sharing is a great community building activity that could work well, and a logical extension of that is a Kitchen Library to share costly cooking appliances. Luxury items such as yachts, formal wear and jewellery would be really great to see, and a very valuable resource would be collaborative conversational language skills training and to address the growing number of languages as the city continues to attract people from around the world.

If you want to learn more about collaborative consumption, I recommend you check out Sharing is Good: How to Save Money, Time, and Resources Through Collaborative Consumption by Beth Buczynski and see how it can help your life, work, and social activities. This could be a whole new way of living for you!

Photo credit 
Lead image courtesy of utm.utoronto.ca 


Rachel Young is a serial entrepreneur and owner of Camaraderie Coworking, with locations in Toronto, ON and La Prairie, QC, and another one in the works for the Port Credit neighbourhood of Mississauga. For more information, visit camaraderie.ca

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