Ecomodo Grows Communities for Lending and Renting Goods

packed closet photo
Sharing websites put stuff packed in closets to good use.

Migrated Image Scott Rubin-Apreche / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Usually EcoModo refers to the title of TreeHugger's weekly column on Gizmodo. But apparently there's more than one "Ecomodo" -- the second is a new website for sharing and trading your stuff with other people. The Ecologist reports that the UK-based Ecomodo is a collaboration between two college friends. It started with an idea back in 2007, and ended up with a full website that launched in April of 2010. According to Ecologist, "The potential for reducing consumer waste through resource-sharing is huge, and in seven months Ecomodo has already been selected as a finalist in both the Green Awards (awarding the promotion of sustainability) and the StartupsUK Awards."

The potential for websites like these comes as no surprise. We've seen a big uptake over the last few years in trade/swap/lend/rent websites and communities of people interested in minimizing ownership and maximizing the use everyone gets out of just a handful of items. In fact, researcher Rachel Botsman recently gave a TED talk highlighting how these sharing websites will help revolutionize consumerism, reducing how much we spend on "stuff" and our carbon footprints at the same time.

The Ecomodo site states:

The embodied carbon associated with the total lifecycle for a product is huge and seldom reflected in the contribution it makes to its owner's life. The average drill is used for 10 minutes of its life. Most people who own a drill never actually needed to own a drill they simply wanted to drill a few holes.
By shifting public attitudes towards satisfying occasional needs through borrowing we reduce the amount of new stuff and therefore ultimately we prevent waste. We want everyone to maximise the utility of their assets, reduce the need for wasteful purchases and to get more out of what we already collectively own.

Ecomodo allows users to set up a free account, and list their stuff to lend either for free, for charity or for a profit. The site also uses lending circles and insurance for items worth more than £50 to bolster trust among members. Eventually, users earn reputations for being solid, trustworthy lenders or borrowers.
'With our site, the chances are that people you know in the real world will see any feedback you get, as it is based around real-world communities. We are hoping that will enable people to be more diligent in borrowing and returning on time,' says Tracy.

As lending websites from tool libraries to baby clothes swapping to even renting out your car are becoming much more popular, we will hopefully see a shift in consumer mindset from owning everything to renting as much as you can before needing to buy. And we love Ecomodo's approach to building communities around lending goods -- it makes practical sense as well as increases the comfort level of people lending or renting out their stuff. It's a smart way to help people transition away from feeling that they'll lose what they own as soon as they give it out, to knowing that the item will stay in the circle and be available when they need it.