Start something. Start a cycle. Buy things. It's ok to own.  But when stuff that others very much want sits there wasted, doing nothing, it's time to release its value.

Consider this… the young couples’ washer and dryer are used twice a week. Otherwise they sit there, unused. That Black & Decker drill we got when we moved; haven’t used it in years. Cath has more shoes than Imelda Marcos. Most sit at the back of the wardrobe, making her feel guilty, though not enough to stop her buying more. Loved that book? You’ll read it again. No you won’t. Sits unopened on the shelf.

Sound familiar? 

There’s a shift away from waste and here are the trends that are driving it:

  • People want to consume; and do.
  • They buy too much, and don’t know where to put it.
  • They actually hate waste
  • They feel guilty (but not enough to stop)
  • They’re desperate to square the buy/waste cycle

The Internet can do the squaring and transform waste into value, and value into price, time and social advantages. Powering an explosion of re-working, re-cycling, re-using and re-pricing: 

  • Uber converted down-time into value. Empty cars, idle driver? Uber turns it into an opportunity. Lyft adds the social element: not only do you share a cheaper ride, you share good company and may just meet your new best friend.
  • AirBnB turns unused space into the hotel industry’s biggest competitor. Regus shares out workspace at scale, so businesses don’t sit on (too often empty) real estate, wasting resources.
  • Zipcars removed the need to own a car. Forget the paperwork, the insurance, the depreciation in value. Just use it when you need it. There’s one on a street near you.
  • Home appliances? In my native Switzerland, communal wood-fired ovens are reopening for the bakers of the village to get a crisp crust and a good gossip. In Moroccan cities, every neighbourhood has a communal oven, alongside the hammam, the mosque and the well. No one family could own one. Across the agricultural world, farmers share tractors, help with each other’s harvest and optimise their investments. It’s only logical.

Back to Cath’s shoes. Forget guilt. It’s how she chooses to spend her money – starting a virtuous cycle. She pays the price for latest and new, then passes her excess shoes into the community to those preferring the hefty discount. Then, older now and a bit more used, the shoes move on. The next buyer pays her acceptable price, and so on, down the line.

It’s an age-old idea, amplified by the Internet’s capacity to network and create new markets. Sharing goes well beyond those who live and meet in the same building or street. From sharing dogs at borrowmydoggy.com to sharing ideas at creative commons, there’s almost nothing that can’t now be used in a smarter, more efficient way, for the good of everyone.

Economists investigate the area under the supply and demand curves, where some people are prepared to spend more, but some less than the price set at the curve’s intersection. If individuals’ diverse price preferences could only be met, then some will pay more to subsidise those who’ll pay less by trading off some benefit, like shiny newness. It’s not exactly what they call Consumer Surplus, but its close enough for us. We simply call this Reconomics. Goods and services are made available below the recommended retail price (who actually recommended the recommended retail price?) or at no price at all.

Reconomics… goods and services are made available below the recommended retail price (who actually recommended the recommended retail price anyway?) Or at no price at all.

Just look at FreeCycle. It’s a prime example of Reconomics remixing economics to redefine people’s economic optimum. Much is gained by many, if more is shared. Many can be made better off, without anyone being made worse off. Fallow space, time and things are re-used, re-cycled, re-evaluated, re-tuned, re-turned. We share resources, and also community, space, time and solidarity; to make everyone better off. 

Many can be made better off, without anyone being made worse off.

Reconomics mixes it all up to disrupt waste and create social value.

Watch our film about Pocket and cities – it’s Reconomics in action, it uses real estate in a smarter way for everyone. Pocket builds cleverly-designed dwellings and shares them with ‘City Makers’, key workers who need to live in the city but can’t afford it. The community via local authorities funds a significant discount (of at least 20%). Better to have City Makers living in its midst for everyone’s good than leaving the land unproductive.

We created the idea of Reconomics for a not-for-profit organisation. Their mission is to take waste out of the system and replace it with economic effectiveness. To release consumer society’s massive store of pent-up value. To pass things on. Which is why we called it PassItOn; a brand made for live Reconomics, an invitation to pass it on.

So many more of our clients aim to build an idea of shared purpose and shared resources into what they do. They progress their operating models to transform waste into value, enrich individual lives and make communities stronger. They turn plain economics into smart Reconomics. The future is bright, the future is shared.

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