There was a time, not so very long ago, when the idea of renting someone’s loft or sharing their car would be repulsive – sending you straight back to the horror of the bobbled, hand-me-down jumpers your mum made you wear to school. But slowly, thanks in no small part to the global recession, sharing has become normalised – it’s not seen as a sign of poverty anymore, more a sign of erudition – an understanding the throwaway economy is bad for us – sharing has become middle class.
The latest research backs up the surge in popularity in ‘sharing’. According to Zipcar:
If all of Britain were to take up the sharing habit with gusto – it could mean a national saving of £12.4bn.
‘The ‘Pay-As-You-Live’ report highlights the growing importance of the shared hire model, as an increasingly popular – and important – part of the economy,’ said Mark Walker, general manager, Zipcar UK.
‘It’s often more convenient and more flexible to hire, lend or share, and doesn’t mean compromising your lifestyle choices, as you can now get 24/7 access to the latest goods and services you need. Today’s technology has made the ancient act of sharing simple and relevant, to our contemporary fast-paced lifestyles.’
Zipcar was founded in 2000 over in the US, but there are plenty of homegrown companies facilitating the UK’s new found love for all things ‘share’.
Parking, as anyone who commutes to work in their car will know, can be a major headache – and at the same time, there are millions of homeowners with parking spaces who just don’t drive. The solution seems easy – and thanks to companies such as London-based ParkatmyHouse.com – it is.
Those in need of a parking spot and those with one to flog can sign up to the platform and get matched up. The company, founded in 2006, has also launched a scheme called ChargeatmyHouse, which will see electronic charge point company ChargeMaster install a charge point for free, which you can then rent out to electric car owners in need of some juice.
‘We’re interested in making cities more efficient and smarter – 30% of traffic is caused by people circling looking for somewhere to park,’ says chief executive Alex Stephany.
2. One Fine Stay
OneFineStay give people a chance to stay at someone’s home when you go on holiday – rather than book into a hotel. It can be a seriously thrifty answer to booking into a hotel and can become a handy second income for people who have a spare room or leave their home empty for long periods of time.
It’s not just about the money though – staying in someone’s actual home means you are living the life of a local – perfect for those eager not to only have the tourist treatment.
The trio behind this startup met at Bath University Innovation Centre and were inspired by their own sudden need for more space.
Homeowners with an abundance of space, commercial business owners with some spare room and people looking for somewhere to store their stuff can all sign up and find each other.
4. Rent My Items
Sometimes you just don’t want to fork out hundreds of pounds for items, knowing full well you’ll only use them once or twice. This is the common predicament Rent My Items is deigned to solve. You can rent a lawnmower, an electric sander, a wedding cake stand – the list is endless.
Sharing material things is fair enough, but what about sharing skills? This startup is peddling what it calls, ‘the economy of hours.’ Those with a certain skills or expertise can sign up and pledge to help someone for an hour, in return for an hour of help from someone with a skill they need. Each skill or service is valued the same, from accountancy to acting classes.
It makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside.