Since the dawn of the Craigslist era, social entrepreneurs have been chomping at the bit to improve, focus, and enhance the online sharing opportunity demonstrated through this incredibly simple tool. In a recent start-up challenge sponsored by Adventure Ecology (the crazy folks who built a boat out of used plastic to sail across the Pacific), this ambition to build a seriously shareable world via web-based technology arose as a popular and important theme.
The Beat Waste Startup Challenge was seeking start-up enterprises with an innovative method for tackling waste, with an ultimate goal to make a zero-waste future a reality. In the post Craigslist age, it should come as no surprise that almost 1/6th of the entrants had a new model for sharing resources to decrease or eliminate waste.
- Rentalic provides an innovative online (and offline) rental marketplace that enables person-to-person renting among friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors.
- Neigh*Borrow recognizes that we need to use stuff, but don't need to own it. Their platform helps us access these items in a secure manner.
- RecycleMatch calls themselves the eharmony of waste, connecting companies that have waste with companies that can actually use those materials as resources.
- ReUse Connection provides a global platform for people to share their ideas and innovations on materials re-use.
- GiftFlow is a non-profit website to give communities a new set of tools that they can use to more easily collaborate, share and give.
- Ecomodo creates the motivation for people to lend and borrow by letting them make and save money, and gain access to the things they need to live a richer life.
- Rentcycle is an online marketplace connects consumers with more than 30,000 existing rental businesses.
- Ecycler brings together those who have recyclables (cans, bottles, newspaper, etc.) to give away with those who want to collect those recyclables.
- And Shareable readers all know about Micki Krimmel's platform, NeighborGoods, where communities can save money and live more efficiently by sharing the stuff they already own.
Sites such as these offer an important opportunity to shift away from an economy driven by un-sustainable levels of personal consumption, towards a connected society where neighbors work together, share resources, and in the long term decouple prosperity from consumption! Craigslist highlighted this opportunity, but social enterprises are creating more nuanced technology platforms for intentional online communities. Their goal is to not only to reduce consumption, but to also get to know your neighbor, make connections, and become a community.