Sharing is Sustainable – Expanding the Sharing Economy

Sharing—with your partner, parents, children, friends, community, or even a total stranger—is a big part of what life is all about.

My neighbor Henry has nearly every power tool that a grown man could want, and he generously shares them with me and others on our block. Which means we don’t need to buy tools and let them sit idle in our garages.  By connecting with people, we are entering an era in which everything from a bicycle to a car to a power tool can be fully utilized by a network rather than just one owner. And that’s good news for our environment and our economy.

Bicycle-and car-sharing can happen informally between family and friends, but collaborative websites and organized programs now help us do the sharing. Last year, Bay Area Bike Share put 700 bicycles into curbside stations in five cities. The 350 bikes within San Francisco—half the fleet—are used 900 to 1,000 times per day.  That translates into a significant decrease in local auto traffic and tailpipe emissions. EPA has been working with the City of Honolulu to promote bike sharing and reduce congestion.

Our cars sit idle 90% of the time, so sharing them can have a huge impact. For example, when miles driven in the U.S. dropped just 3% in 2008, road congestion declined 30%. Every shared ride is a win for our environment and our health, because less traffic means less stress. Continue reading

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