The Knick Knack Nook, Bowen Island LIFT, and the Bowen Buy/Sell/Trade/Loan Facebook Page are all great examples of our community’s inclination to share, re-use, save a few bucks and cut the amount of junk we’re sending to the landfill all at the same time. We might not know it but, by buying, selling, donating and loaning, we are participating in the “sharing economy.” It’s also known as the collaborative economy, and David Van Seters says that there is always room to grow it, and by doing so our local economy can find the boosts it is looking for without having to “attract” dollars from the global economy.
“The old model of economic development looks to create full-time jobs, looks for inputs from the outside,” says Van Seters. “Things are changing, and in the new economy people engage in multiple activities that add up to the same, or provide even greater benefit, than a single job. Small communities in particular tend to find greater success in tapping their idle assets.”
Van Seters says Facebook is not actually the ideal platform for sharing and trading.
“It wasn’t designed to be a buy and sell, and when you compare Facebook to platforms that are, its shortcomings are obvious. If Bowen is serious about a sharing economy, the community should establish a separate platform for the express purpose of sharing and trading goods and services. Imagine one place where you could go to see what’s available in terms of land, cars and clothing? In a small community, you also have the opportunity take these things from the digital to tangible events easily, making them even more relevant.”
Van Seters is the entrepreneur behind Spud, a grocery delivery service that started with the aim of cutting out the middle-man between farmers and food buyers, delivering to homes on a direct route to cut the consumption of fossil fuels. Van Seters also comes by his interest in sustainability honestly, as he is a trained environmental biologist who learned business by necessity when he was made a manager of the environmental consulting company that he worked for,
“Midway through my MBA I realized that if we really want to solve environmental problems we need to change the way the traditional economy operates,” he says.
Van Seters says that no economic model has impressed him quite like the sharing economy.
“From an environmental perspective, it’s a direct method of curbing consumption. From a social perspective, sharing builds community, but when you look at it from an economic perspective, that’s where the benefits are really compelling.”
“Sharing economy enterprises often create the opportunity for micro-entrepreneurs to earn supplemental income by renting out their idle assets. For lower income earners, this extra income can mean the difference between them being able to make ends meet or not.”
For users of the sharing economy Van Seters says, rental rates are often significantly lower than the services they replace.
“In short, the sharing economy helps create meaningful extra income for asset owners (the entrepreneurs) and gives asset users the same or better quality asset at a much lower price.”
David Van Seters will be speaking on Thursday, April 3 at the Gallery at Artisan Square. Doors open at 7pm, presentation starts at 7:30. Admission by donation.