ShareFestTo embraces bartering and borrowing over buying
Spotlight on the city’s sharing economy
Dayna Boyer lives in a 425 square foot apartment in Toronto’s east end. She wanted a juicer, but was hesitant to give up the tiny amount of counter space she had in her kitchen. She also didn’t want to invest $300 for an appliance she would only use occasionally.
That’s how she got the idea to start a Kitchen Library.
Boyer’s Kitchen Library is one of the 25 organizations taking part in ShareFestTO. The event will bring some of Toronto's borrowing, renting, trading, swapping and bartering organizations together.
It's part of a bigger trend, as businesses like AutoShare, Airbnb and others involved in the sharing economy are growing in number.
"People are recognizing that we don’t need stuff to make us happy," says the Centre for Social Innovation’s Adil Dhalla, one of the event’s co-organizers.
Although the concept of the sharing economy is not new, Dhalla says, even the veterans are introducing innovations in response to the recent demand.
"The Toronto Public Library is the original gangster of the sharing economy — last year they launched the equivalent of Netflix for people to access videos online," he says.
Dhalla says the sharing economy is on the rise because people want to save money, reduce waste and create a sense of community.
"There’s a definite correlation between the rise of the sharing economy and recession," says Dhalla. "People can’t afford many things but they still want access to these tools."
Ryan Dyment from the Institute for a Resource Based Economy, another one of the event’s co-organizers, says when people take part in the sharing economy they begin to see that "resources are everywhere you just need to connect them."
For both Dyment and Dhalla the sharing economy is predominantly a community building project.
"Money can sometimes be a barrier to interaction," says Dyment.
Dhalla says that these models often force people to come together in physical spaces, promote dialogue and a sense of shared goals.
"Ultimately they create social capital and make our communities richer and healthier."
While both Dyment and Dhalla are excited about the growth of the sharing economy they admit that the movement is still very young with many kinks yet to be worked out.
"In every system you pull from one area and tug from another," says Dhalla.
Some issues that need to be resolved involve the impact on the tax pool. Operations like Airbnb, a company that uses private homes as places people can stay when travelling, don’t collect taxes like a hotel.
Those concerns are downplayed by the festival's organizers.
"The sharing economy has not reached a critical mass," says Dhalla. "We’re watching in front of us an entire market transformation and the old guard is justifiably threatened."
The real impact of the sharing economy may not be apparent yet but for those at the forefront of the movement this is an exciting time for innovation.
Boyer’s Kitchen Library is almost a year old with a full-array of high-end specialty cooking and baking supplies including a bread-maker, a dehydrator and a pasta maker. Now she’s hoping to take the project further with plans to partner with various condominiums to create Kitchen Libraries in the buildings. She’s excited about taking part in her first sharing economy event.
"There could be people all over the city who can help complement my project," says Boyer. "We just don’t know about each other yet."