the people’s guide to disownership I am the CEO of a growing, mid-sized company in San Francisco and I don’t have a car. I get around town just fine, usually on public transportation. When I need a car, I use my membership with Zipcar, a car-sharing service that lets each member simply access the cars when we need them. I’m not alone. In fact, there is a movement gaining momentum across the country called “disownership”: sharing, renting and borrowing traditionally-owned items to get the benefits without the expense and hassle of ownership. My company Sunrun just released a new survey showing that over half (52 percent) of Americans say they are already engaging in disownership, and many more plan to do so in the near future. Sunrun is one of a number of companies that have harnessed the power of technology to help people access things safely without owning them, and save money doing it. Disownership represents a major cultural shift in consumer behavior—a shift that benefits our wallets, our planet and our communities. So we at Sunrun, and our peers at other disownership and sharing companies, want to make sure you have the insider insights, tips and best practices to get the most out of disownership. I hope you’ll enjoy our People’s Guide to Disownership as you explore and take advantage of this new era of access. Today’s status symbol isn’t what you own. It’s what you’re smart enough not to own. As we say at Sunrun: Power Forward, Lynn Jurich, Sunrun co-Founder and co-CEO2
the disownership dictionary Access Economy. Platforms, companies and online marketplaces that empower individuals to use and access products without owning them. This includes Peer-to-Peer Marketplaces (see next page) and companies that own and maintain traditionally-owned items while offering rental or other forms of access to users (e.g., Zipcar, Sunrun). Sharing Economy. A subset of the Access Economy, defined by the Wall Street Journal as “niche marketplaces for things that get cheaper when people use them together, (e.g., pet care, wedding gowns, child rearing and more.)” Collaborative Consumption. Another subset of the Access Economy. Collaborative Consumption indicates multiple consumers having access to the same product or service via sharing, swapping or renting. This does not include certain forms of disownership in which one consumer has sole access to an item but does not have to own it (e.g., paying for solar power without owning the panels on one’s roof).4
8 things to disown in 2013 Cars. You might not realize it, but Vacation Accommodations. car ownership is optional. There are If you like to take vacations in a home, many options available for sharing versus a hotel, but you want to be able and borrowing cars, for as little as to take your pick of cities, platforms an hour. If your need is occasional like VRBO.com and Airbnb.com allow use, RelayRides and Wheelz allow you to rent a room, a floor or a whole you to rent by the hour from other individuals. If you property for as little as a day at need a car all over town—or the country—on a fairly a time—all over the world. frequent basis, it might make sense to invest in a Zipcar membership. Wedding Wear. The average price of a wedding dress in the United States Trucks. Even if you do own a car, is right around $1,100. This is for an there come those times when you item of clothing you will probably need something bigger to move never wear again! Men have rented a piece of furniture or handle a wedding tuxedos for ages. Why not rent a dress, jewelry gardening project. If you have a need or even threads for fancy, pre-wedding events like for something smaller than a moving rehearsal dinners? RentTheRunway.com has a wedding van, try Getaround—one of your neighbors might have boutique dedicated to these occasions. a truck you can rent for less than $20 an hour.6
Luxury Clothes and Goods. Solar. Most homeowners assume Celebrities go to black-tie events all they can’t afford to pay for pricey the time, and even they borrow their panels, so they dismiss the concept clothes, shoes and accessories. If you of going solar as a nice, but unrealistic, only go to a couple such functions idea. Here’s some myth-busting: solar every year, renting your fashion makes power service companies like Sunrunsense—especially since you probably won’t want to repeat. will install and maintain solar panels on your home forSites like RentTheRunway.com (apparel and accessories) little to no upfront fee. You pay them for energy, but theand BagBorrowORSteal.com (handbags, shoes and other rate is cheaper than traditional utility rates.accessories) allow you to dress like the stars withoutzapping your bank account or cluttering your closetwith things you won’t wear again. Tools. How often will you use a floor sander, or even a power drill? If you are working around the house, but Bikes. An increasing number of cities need an expensive tool for a one-off have municipal bike-rental programs project, check out Neighborgoods.net that let you just pick up and drop off or ask your home improvement store bikes as you need to, all over town. to see if they have a tool rental counter. Contractors also Even if your town (or the town you’re often rent tools they don’t use regularly, so even manyvisiting) doesn’t have a city-run program, just Google traditional stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s offer tool“bike rental” and the name of the town you’re visiting. rental programs you can take advantage of.Most major cities have a number of hotels and othercompanies that will rent you a bike for an hour or a week. 7
the thinking person’s guide to making smart disownership decisions Disownership is freeing. To some, it’s a lifestyle choice Here are some best practices for making wise that makes a value statement: that owning stuff is less disownership decisions: important than relationships and experiences. But it’s also just plain smart. As a practice, choosing to rent, 1. DECIDE WHAT MATTERS THE MOST. borrow, lease or otherwise access things you don’t need to own is efficient, eco-friendly and saves time, money Get clear on your values and get real about how much and energy. you really will use something before you buy it. Cultivate clarity on what your “why” is for wanting the item and That said, disownership reflects a shift away from stay focused on that throughout your decision-making the status quo, a change in direction from the era of process. On the flip side, stay clear about your priorities Conspicuous Consumption. So, while all of us know how and the experiences you can fund (from vacations to debt to buy and sell stuff, many of us don’t know the ins and elimination) with the savings from disownership. outs of navigating the access economy and participating in disownership while protecting our own interests. 2. DON’T BE SO EMOTIONAL. Or rather, don’t let emotions drive your decision. Over the ages, the rush of acquiring and possessing things has become a primal, addictive force. In real estate they call it: “pride of ownership.” But in fact, the freedom of disownership can be more powerful than the possessive emotions we have about our belongings. Having the time and money for life-defining experiences freed up by the things we disown can be a much bigger rush than holding the title to a car.8
how to be a smart disowner YOUR DISOWNER PROFILE MATTERS. Fill it out completely. Disownership doesn’t happen without trust, and the quickest way to help owners know you are trustworthy is to tell them about yourself. Include your photo and connect your social media profiles. If you’re renting a house for a vacation with your family or a work trip, let owners know who you’re traveling with, and why. People are more comfortable engaging in the transaction when they know the person on the other end is a fully-formed human being. UNDERSTAND YOUR RIGHTS—AND YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES. To access and use a car, solar panels or power tools safely and smartly requires a complete legal contract articulating the various parties’ rights and responsibilities. Whether this contract is on paper or online, it is legally binding, so read it and know it. Make sure you understand who is responsible for maintaining the items, what happens in cases of malfunctions or disputes, and what costs and deposits you are responsible for—at all points of the transaction.10
CLARITY IS GOLDEN. “Close to Downtown” might mean 5-minute walk to one person and a 15-minute car ride to another. A solar system might stop saving you money if you increase the energy you use once you have it installed. Review notes, descriptions, user guides, comments by reviewers and maps carefully during your decision-making process. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what you can expect—and what is expected of you. CALENDAR FOR COLLABORATION. Disownership requires collaboration. You will usually need to meet with an owner at the top and the bottom of the transaction, to pick up keys, have goods delivered or installed or drop off tools. Make sure you have time in your schedule for this. They will likely have helpful tips and answers to your questions that you might miss out on if you are distracted by a ticking clock or looming deadline. TAKE CARE. You may not be responsible for the maintenance of what you borrow, but you are responsible for its careful use. You’ll want to use what you are borrowing with as much care as you would if it were your own. That means keeping a power tool well-oiled, your rental home locked up when you’re out, or your borrowed bike secured in a safe place. By being a good steward of the objects you rent, lease or borrow, you maximize the use you get out of them, while registering some deposits in your own karmic accounts.The People’s Guide to Disownership (the Guide) is not intended to be and does not constitute financial or investment advice. Theproducts and services recommended in this Guide may not be available to, or suitable for, everyone, and may change. Nothingcontained in this Guide shall constitute the provision of investment advice or a recommendation to buy or sell any product or services.Independent professional advice, including tax advice, should be sought before making a financial or investment decision.