It's been some time since my last post, so let's shake it off with a rare non-technical one.
The term "sharing economy", or peer-to-peer services if you like, has been hyped up over the last couple of years. Companies like Uber, Airbnb, Lyft and so on have been both praised and villainize for shaking up old, traditional industries. I will not go in to the political and ethnical debate about this "brave new world" transition that this economy is bringing in this post - that is content for another day - but as we say in social democratic Norway: Hey, regulate and pay them taxes, yo! Let's instead focus on what services I use regularly and what impact they have had in my day to day life.
Of course, like everybody else I use Airbnb when traveling privately. The personal experience you get from contacting a host is appealing to me, and something the big hotels can't compete with. This summer I rented a nice "rorbu", or fishing shelter up in Lofoten. I became really friendly with the host, a fisherman who rented out his shelter in the summer months when he was not using it himself. Airbnb has opened up a new world for people to earn a bit extra on that spare bedroom, as well as connecting people from all around the world. It also makes a traveling experience much more authentic.
I don't rent out anything on Airbnb, but me and my girlfriend are considering renting out the apartment the next time we go on holiday.
Nabobil, or "neighbor's car" is a Norwegian service that lets people rent out their car to others, like Airbnb is for houses. This service have really changed my life in a big way. I live pretty close to the city center in Trondheim, about 15 minutes on foot. The bus stop is 50 meters from my door, and city bikes about 100 meters from there again. Work is about 3 kilometers away, and we don't have any parking spots there. What did this mean? My trusty old Honda Civic didn't get driven that much, maybe once a week.
It is not sustainable to own a car with that user pattern, so I got rid of it.
If we need to shop for something big or go on a weekend trip, I simply hit up someone on Nabobil and rent a car from them. In the area I live, that is about 30 cars ready to go right now. Like Airbnb, if you first come in contact with a person and the renting experience is solid for both of you, the relationship is made and it's much easier to rent again the next time. When renting a car, I also like to fill up the gas tank and give it a solid wash, just to be a nice. It pays off in the long term. Getting rid of the car and use Nabobil has also saved a lot of money, since stuff like insurance are included in the total sum.
Just log in to one of them, select what food you want from what restaurant and in about 30 minutes time, a nice guy or girl comes biking home to you with it. The restaurant reaches more customers, doesn't need to invest in cars and drivers, and the student on the bike earns some extra money. I'm a fan.
Vaskehjelp, or "rent a cleaner" is great for people who needs some extra help cleaning at home. Similar to Airbnb and Uber, you come in contact with a person who names a price, you name a time and place, and you get your house cleaned. If the cleaner was nice and you are happy, give him a 5 star review so he gets more customers. Now I don't use the service, but my girlfriend is registered and cleans for people when she has the time. This is a great way for her to work when she wants to, a nice fit for students.
Little free library
The last one has nothing to do with economy (since it's free) but Little free library is my favorite sharing initiatives. It's small wooden sheds with a glass door you can put a book in. Or take a book from. Or both. In that way, you can donate that beat up version of The Lord Of The Rings you got lying around, in exchange for something else somebody put there. This is a great way to share knowledge with those around you.