My name is Micki Krimmel and I&#x2019;m the founder and CEO of NeighborGoods.net
Do you ever wish you could just borrow something instead of buying it? How much do you really use your vacuum cleaner? How many lawnmowers does there need to be in your neighborhood? NeighborGoods connects unused resources to people who need them. Frends and neighbors can borrow and lend stuff in a safe community instead of buying new.
We just launched nationally a few months ago but we&#x2019;ve already learned a lot about the value of sharing. How it impacts communities, how it empowers people in the face of economic uncertainty.
I would argue that sharing might be just the activity we need to strengthen local communities - to create a more connected, engaged citizenry. To help us behave more like citizens and less like consumers.
I would also argue that sharing can help us live happier and more fulfilling lives.
While this sounds like a new idea, in actuality, sharing has played that role in our society for a really long time. The hyper consumption that has dominated our economy for recent decades is actually a pretty new thing.
To get started, I want you to take a trip with me down memory lane.
What&#x2019;s the most prized virtue for kids?
That&#x2019;s right, sharing. We learn how to do it when we&#x2019;re very young. We&#x2019;re taught when we&#x2019;re 2 that sharing is the ultimate virtue. It&#x2019;s the mark of a good person. We all want to be good people. We all want to please others. We WANT to share. It feels good to share.
In fact, we are biologically pre-disposed toward sharing.
Michael Tomasello is an evolutionary anthropologist who argues in his book Why We Cooperate that humans are hard-wired for cooperation. Basically, the argument goes that since we are social animals, since our success as a species depended upon increasingly complex social systems, our evolution favored altruism and cooperation.
It&#x2019;s not hard to imagine how evolution might encourage cooperative behaviors in a hostile world.
While apes are not known for their tendency to share food and valuable objects, experiments show that human children are more inclined to share.
If sharing is in our genes
Why do we end up with garages that look like this? Why do we buy so much stuff we hardly ever use instead of sharing resources with our neighbors?
Because the other big influence that impacts our sharing behavior is SOCIAL INFLUENCE.
Our early tendencies toward sharing and equity are tempered by social norms and expectations. We are certainly influenced to shop more than we are to share.
We are trained to shop. It&#x2019;s the American thing to do.
We shop so much that we don&#x2019;t know what to do with all the stuff we buy.
Americans spend $22 bilion/year on self storage
7.4 square feet for every man, woman and child in America
We&#x2019;re caught in a seemingly endless cycle of working our asses off just to buy more shit and then build fences around that shit to protect it from our neighbors.
We laugh because we can relate. This is how we all live.
Just think about what your house or apartment looks like. How mjuch stuff is shoved into the closets and storage spaces?
We&#x2019;re trained to consume, to always want more. It&#x2019;s built into how our economy functions.
But what most people don&#x2019;t realize is that this is a relatively new thing.
For most of recorded history, people shared. They bartered for goods and services. There is a long history of cooperative buying and sharing.
This example from a newspaper in 1910.
This reminds me of a popular service we all use today. Has anyone heard of Groupon? It was just valued at $1.35 billion. And that&#x2019;s what I&#x2019;m trying to say. Sharing is not a new thing.
As far back as you look, you will see that people have always found ways to work together to gain access to things they needed.
during the Great Depression and returned to bartering for things they needed. Sharing food, skills, clothing.
Barter theater opened its doors in Virginia, allowing patrons to pay the admission price with produce, dairy products or livestock
The first toy loan program was founded in LA in 1935.
Toys would be loaned on a weekly basis, and a record would be kept of every toy borrowed. The children would be graded on the care of their borrowed toy, receiving a satisfactory mark for returning their toy on time and in good condition. After 20 good marks, s/he would attain the status of Honor Borrower, which entitled the child to a gift from the Honor Cabinet. In addition, the Toy Loan Honor Code was established to teach honesty, responsibility, courtesy, and integrity.
These sharing programs can really have a great impact on the community. Community centric behaviors lead to more community centric behaviors.
We have similar programs today including Toy Rental Club and Baby Plays
As the economy began to improve after WW2 we saw the beginnings of hyper consumption.
More women entered the workforce so families had more disposable income.
There was an influx of new disposable items that were marketed as time-savers offering convenience for women who had to work and care for the family.
Things like kleenex tissues, q-tips, bandaids, paper towels, disposable shopping bags, etc.
1955 Life Magazine &#x201C;throwaway living&#x201D; - message was a life of convenience as metaphor of freedom
Economists argued for continued consumption to fuel growth as the middle class now had access to more and more luxury items.
As hyper consumerism of the 50s settled in, we all bought into the idea of the self made man with a private castle.
Our very identities became defined by what we owned.
That&#x2019;s all any of us in this room have ever known.
But that&#x2019;s starting to change. It seems like every day now there are services popping up to encourage more sharing.
Bike-sharing, car-sharing, land-sharing, book lending, money lending, couch-surfing, clothing swaps,the list goes on and on. With each new sharing service, the idea of sharing resources seems less crazy.
Zipsters - identity
2. cultural shift
- increased awareness of the impact of consumption habits - economic, environmental, social - people want to have a smaller footprint
- trend toward local commujnities - more farmers markets now than walmarts
3. social networking - increased familliarity with online communites. we&#x2019;re better at navigation online communiie
New study just released by Shareable.net and Latitude research all about this trend. The study interviewed people about their sharing habits and found that the ubiquitousness of social networking has paved the way for these new ideas to be successful.
Obviously, part of it is the technology. Now we have the tools to connect people easily, to manage inventories, to pinpoint location.
But more than that, people have become comfortable with the idea of sharing. Social networking tools have taught us how to trust strangers again. We understand how to navigate online relationships.
Better at navigating facebook, deciding who to trust online than we are at meeting our next door neighbors. So these technologies are coming in to help us rebuild local communities.
Online networks feel like small towns. Like real communities.
Here are some interesting statistics from the study
The study outlines some interesting business opportunities opened up by this trend.
One of the areas that is underserved is sharing of household goods.
And that&#x2019;s where NeighborGoods comes in.
in US 80% of of all items we own are used less than once a month
How many of you own a power drill?
The average power drill gets used between 6 and 13 minutes in its entire lifetime.
In this famous example, the question becomes &#x201C;Do you really need the drill or do you need the whole in the wall?&#x201D;
Like other sharing services, our goal is redistribute this idling capacity = get more use out of the stuff we own
With NeighborGoods you can share your inventory with your friends and neighbors in a safe, trusted environment. We give you all the tools you need to decide who to share with, and to make sure you get your stuff back.
Thousands of people are already sharing on NeighborGoods
If this sounds like a new idea, again, it&#x2019;s not.
We&#x2019;re just going back to the way things used to be.
It&#x2019;s a return to a more community-centered approach to living. And personally I think it&#x2019;s about time.
economist Richard Layard created this graph tracking happiness in the US against our economic wealth.
Money increases happiness up to a certain point. Once your needs are covered and you feel financially secure, you don&#x2019;t see much improvement beyond that.
You can see happiness peaked in the mid 1950&#x2019;s where it began to drop off.
happiness drops off in 1957, just as &#x201C;work and spend&#x201D; cycle began and our culture shifted to a more materialist view of fulfillment
Paul Zak, founding director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University, studies theeffects of oxytocin in social exchanges. His lab has found that when people share and experience gratitude, or any sense of connection, their brains will release the hormone oxytocin. Though more commonly associated with breast-feeding, oxytocin is also known to relieve stress, improve immune function, and foster trust in human interactions, all of which contribute to greater well-being and happiness
Research shows that increased feelings of trust and cooperation lead to increased happiness
Sharers live longer. Paul Zak argues for the health benefits of sharing and there has been other research that shows that giving and volunteering aids in healing of chronic diseases.
there aren&#x2019;t a lot of startups that can say that. Using NeighborGoods will make you live longer.