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Environmental implications

Looking into the positive and negative effects that the sharing economy has on the environment.
silhouette of a plant
© RMIT University 2017
The sharing economy reduces waste from consumption, thus providing better protection for the environment. This is because the production of goods often utilises natural resources from the environment and leads to waste that negatively affects the environment. Goods that would previously have been disposed of because the owners no longer needed them are now rented, swapped or given to those who need them.
The same can be said for goods that are infrequently used. As we become more conscious of protecting our environment, finding ways to recycle goods has become important for all businesses. The sharing economy provides an important solution to find uses for goods that are no longer useful for those who own them. By renting out or even giving away items, the value from those goods are maximised, and those who would have also bought these items save money and prevent waste.
However, we could also argue that the sharing economy increases waste through the decentralisation of the sources of production from organised sources to individual sources. For instance, Uber has increased the duration and number of cars being driven in cities, and reduces the likelihood that consumers will choose public transport. This has increased both harmful gas emissions and road congestions in cities.
The sharing economy has both positive and negative effects on the environment. Whether the total impact will be positive or negative remains to be seen.
Activity
Imagine a ‘new world’ where all products and services were shared – a full sharing economy. Would this imaginary world be more environmentally sustainable than our current world?
Search the internet to find an image of what you think this ‘new world’ will look like and post it with a caption to Instagram, or alternatively in the comments area below, with the hashtag #RMITnewworld

© RMIT University 2017
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Business Futures: the Sharing Economy

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