Rentalism

"Rentalism" is the new consumption. I just made that word up because I think rental is on the tip of a rebirth. Now's surely the time not to be burdend by the ownership of stuff that costs money, takes up space and wastes planetary resources, but to enter the new marketplace of shared use and rentinn. A while ago I wrote an article about renting things, sharing things and falling in love. I profiled a German site called Erento, which is basically an enabler for renting. It pairs borrowers with renters. Well, here's a sneak preview of a similar site that is launching in the U.S. this coming fall (early September). It is called irent2u.com and it aims to create a single "Online Rental Marketplace" where anyone can rent anything from anyone. It will "change the face of commerce as you know it" and "get more from what you already have". I like the sound of it. As it says, "Mankind is faced with virtually limitless wants yet only limited resources. We satisfy these desires by purchasing all we can afford yet in the process create tremendous waste and lose untold value. Everyday trillions of dollars in useful assets sit unused all across the world. People own large quantities of items they hardly ever use while others are forced to go without". The site lists a few: drills, barbeques, or extra vehicles, which sometimes only get used once or twice a year. Baby/children's goods spring to mind in particular. Cots, buggies, bibs, books, changing mats etc. are all quite short-lived consumable items. Kids grow older and a lot of these goods become redundant. Money spent, resources used, and then what happens? I think some items get passed along, but wouldn't it make sense to 'servicesize' a lot of these goods ie, to pay for use not ownership of some of these things and then when you are done with them they get taken back, refurbished and utilized again or shared between a chain of people (perhaps you pick a community of others to share your resource with).

"Rental" has typically been synonymous with the less affluent that can't afford to buy something outright, so instead pays an ongoing fee for the receipt of using it. But in a world of finite natural resources, waste and the legacy of post consumer goods becoming everyone's issue, renting and not having the burden of owning and then dealing with the disposal or storage of goods is a compelling proposition.

The Internet is a great enabler for connecting people, their needs, to resources already in the market, and turning this into value. Freecycle is a great example of a site that connects people, via email, with things they want to throw away with others who can use them. The rule on this site is that everything is free.

Irent2u.com categorizes items to rent under: events and parties, sports and hobbies, computer and office, arts and film, photo, audio and video, vacation homes, cars vehicles and aircraft, agencies artists and services, construction and building, real estate and roommates. You can search by category or by geographic area. The site builds up a profile and rates lenders and borrowers in much the way E-bay does. I am excited about sharing/renting cars from lenders nearby me in New York if I want to get out the city or even a vacation home. In fact my list goes on: a drill (nope, I haven't bought one since moving here), someone to help me put up my shelves (yes, I am useless), a medium format camera lens, a vintage outfit for a wedding would be nice, a pair of cross-country skis, a horse

Written by Tamara Giltsoff

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