Collective Consumption – Back to Retro Thinking

While photographing a number of Corporate events in Sydney, I have been fortunate to hear Dr James Moody from the CSIRO and the co-author of the ‘Sixth Wave‘, speak.

James Moody believes that since the industrial revolution there has been five distinct waves in industry, “each starting with disruptive new technologies and ending with a global depression”.  James says that each wave has “transformed our industries, societies and economies almost beyond recognition. We are now on the cusp of another massive transformation – the sixth wave.”

It is his sixth wave prediction that fascinates me.  A future where waste will be an opportunity and new markets will move away from being dependant on resources to becoming resource efficient.

Here an example that James Moody gives:

Let’s say today you purchased a brand new washing machine from a local store and the warranty on that washing machine is three years.  Who has an invested interest for that washing machine to last a very long time?  The answer is really only you – the company’s interest is to ensure the machine lasts for the period of the warranty.

Now let’s say in a new business model, that you rented a washing machine from the same company who manufactured the machine.  Who now has an invested interest for that washing machine to last a very long time?  Now the answer is both parties – you and the company.

This last week I have been hearing about the phrase ‘Collective Consumption’. To be honest I wasn’t sure the meaning but had a sneaking suspicion, it was the same thinking as Dr James Moody’s ‘Sixth Wave’.

Time Magazine has called Collective Consumption one of the ten ideas that will change the world.

What exactly is Collective Consumption?  It is retro thinking – the old world behaviours like sharing, swapping, renting and bartering, again becoming the way to do business (and as Dr James Moody suggests, to survive in a resource limited world).

This last Thursday I was invited to attend the opening of Open Shed who’s business model was based on Collective Consumption.  Open Shed is all about renting each other’s stuff.

I remember renovating our home five years ago.  To save money, my husband and I did much of the labour ourselves.  However as we are not tradies we needed to ‘purchase’ a number of power tools.  Now five years later those tools sit unused in our garden shed.

A better use of our money and the earth’s resources would have been to rent those same power tools.  We could have gone onto the Open Shed’s website to find tools that we needed, from people who lived nearby.

Not all is lost however as now our unused tools can be listed on the Open Shed website to rent to people who need them.  We make money, they save money and collectively we have reduced consumption on the earth’s limited resources – this is collective consumption!

Australian Businesses who are built on the Collective Consumption model:

Find A Uniform
The Garage Sale Trail
Mee Meep
Space Out
Go Get
Open Shed


8 thoughts on “Collective Consumption – Back to Retro Thinking

  1. Pingback: A Big Year For Being Green and Sustainable! « Greener Me

  2. Great article Sarhn. I would like to highlight which is the car share service I have been using for the past 5 months… Great service and available all through Sydney.

    I sit next to the founder of JayRide and they are doing great things – It doesn’t hurt that he is a good ‘ol kiwi boy too!


    • Hi Matt,

      It is a very small world i.e. you sitting next to the founder of ‘JayRide’ whom I met at the ‘Open Shed’ launch.

      Yes ‘Go Get’ is a great car sharing service company. I believe there were people from ‘Go Get’ at the launch too but I didn’t get a chance to meet them. I have added the ‘Go Get’ link to my post above. Good to know that you are using them Matt. 🙂


  3. Pingback: Collective Consumption – Back to Retro Thinking | Serve4Impact

  4. Sarhn, I am sorry that I did not get to catch up on Thurs night but thanks so much for the FindAUniform mention and your article on Collaborative Consumption. Open Shed is amazing and it has really got me thinking before buying anything. cheers Bern


  5. Hi Lisa, it was wonderful meeting you on Thursday night too. Thank you for your time to chat in detail about Collective Consumption and Open Shed during your launch. I was very appreciative as I know how busy you were.


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