Access Over Ownership: Our relationship with stuff is changing
Updated: Oct 18
We are taking big strides to move away from mass consumption and the need to ‘own’ everything to gain social status and material wealth. We are reconnecting with our local communities and finding our own beliefs again by trading consumption for simple ‘access’ in order to get greater benefit and value.
It’s predicted that some 80% of items in UK and US homes are used less than once a month, whilst self-storage is now a $24bn industry in the US (as of 2014). This is all down to the convenience culture with mass manufacturing purposely shortening product lifespans in order to encourage further sales and move with the trends and technology advancements.
Meanwhile, the internet has empowered people to create flourishing networks of online communities all around the world to promote the concept of 'access over ownership', utilising its functionality as a robust sharing platform. This new movement can only be a good thing for the world’s depleting resources, global pollution and smothering islands of waste.
Consider Spotify, iTunes and Deezer – music streaming platforms directly to your mobile device. When you purchase music digitally you are reducing CO² emissions by 40-80% compared to buying a hard copy CD according to this research paper. The same goes for LOVEFiLM and Netflix.
Another example is car sharing, such as Zipcar and Hertz 24/7. They provide an alternative option for hiring or owning a car. According to the Zipcar website, each and every Zipcar takes 6 personally-owned vehicles off the road – they have thousands of cars within their fleet, so the impact this could have if we all opted for shared services is phenomenal.
Once seen as more hippie than anything else, clothes swapping, couch surfing and tool sharing are all part of this revolutionary movement. People are even sharing their gardens, their driveways and their skills. These models mean you only pay for things when you need them. Zipcar has suggested that Britons could save £12.4bn by adopting a pay-as-you-live approach.
‘Access Over Ownership’ will only continue to rise if we all champion the trend. But it also needs to be supported by government and policies as well as high profile brands and technology advancements to ensure access is more convenient and cost-effective than ownership.
Pippa Goodman of the Future Foundation stated:
“Technology will be critical to the evolution of sharing models. Offering customers the ability to pinpoint local services on the go and personalising recommendations will help to ensure sharing services remain attractive and flexible. We’ll also see more online sharing platforms developing around specific needs or interests.”
How many things do you now share or choose to access over own? I'd love to hear and hopefully, I'll learn about a few great things to do myself!