Leiden: Leading in sharing

Modern problematic

Living in a modern world we, as human beings, have exceeded our potential of connecting to (and sharing with) one another by the means of internet, smartphones and most of all an intensive use of social media. Despite its underlying philosophy of bringing people together and creating a sense of community, people still are feeling lonelier than ever and feel more unsafe than they did in earlier times. Even though the latter might be true looking purely from an environmental perspective, one could say we live in prosperous times in which the world is safer than it ever was before. To kill two birds with one stone, moving towards a sharing economy can contribute to a sustainable future while recovering our sense of community and feelings of safety.

How a sharing city works

Basically, a sharing economy works according to the principle of sharing products or services through the concepts of peer-to-peer or peer-to-business-to-peer sharing or renting (such as Airbnb). In doing so, it can reduce the demand for new products and therefore reduce a populations resource consumption. Furthermore, the sharing or temporarily trading of a product or service with ones close by neighbors would result in more communal solidarity. When implented on a large scale in a city, we can speak of a sharing city. As a leading example, Seoul is currently the front-runner on becoming a sharing city. They have implemented interesting ideas such as:

  • Using “sharing libraries” where people could deposit and borrow tools or books for free.
  • Car Sharing
  • ShareHub: a place to find all that can be shared.

The transition towards a sharing economy isn’t only happening in South Korea, but also here in the Netherlands in both Nijmegen and Amsterdam. One could argue that if Amsterdam could implement innovative ideas towards becoming a sharing city, Leiden could most certainly succeed just as well. As Leiden is a lot smaller and less, the possibilities are endless to make the transition.

Leiden towards becoming a sharing city

To make the transition towards becoming a sharing city one could think of several applications in the city of Leiden. For starters, Leiden has a lot of empty buildings that could function as sharing hubs or as headquarters for startup companies that could work on the transition. For instance, the old V&D building on the Nieuwe Rijn/Breestraat which is now being used for pop-up stores could be the new center of sharing. By dividing this massive building into separate supervised corners which all have an own product category (e.g. tools, clothes, electronics), you create an accessible and fundamental place for sharing.

Another way of making it possible for Leiden to become a sharing city is by developing an overarching website or app which includes all categories of products and services which could possibly be shared among the city’s citizens. By including as much companies and students in the development of this application as possible, and by sharing the service throughout the city’s universities, popular visited locations and through the inhabitants mailboxes, this application might result an a success.

To make the transition towards a sharing economy lot of extra services will need to be implemented to make it a succes. For instance, a workforce that examines the products for any damages to a persons product needs to be implemented. Next to that, people would want to be sure that their product always returns to their rightful owner, meaning that people would have to register to be able to share or borrow a product. Of course the transition towards a sharing economy isn’t something that happens overnight and takes time and effort (meaning job opportunities!) to make it all possible. Nevertheless, a sharing economy is an interesting concept that could change our end of life economy  to a more communal and sustainable way of living.

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5 thoughts on “Leiden: Leading in sharing”

  1. Aren’t Seoul’s ideas already implemented throughout the Netherlands? In Amsterdam bookshelves are outside people’s houses and you can grab them while you walk by, carsharing (carpooling) is also done in the Netherlands and furthermore ‘sharehub’ is something not new, it can be found all over facebook. I can’t seem to find anything totally new.

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  2. The idea of a sharing economy sounds very beneficial from an individual’s point of view but wouldn’t this pose a threat to many businesses in the long run. Many sectors of our current economic system depend on people buiying things continuosly and replacing them in a short period of time. Sharing or trading them for free (such as books) does not seem like a beneficial idea in terms of economic growth which will lead to a lot of resistance in existing companies. Also, for this sharing economy to work people have to change their need to express status through possessions (e.g. owning an expensive car) and transition to a post-consumer society. But as having property is part of people’s definition of personal identity this transition seems challenging.

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  3. I like your idea of a sharing hub, and I think it could be very benificial for people with a lower income. It is a not a completely novel idea, but why should it be ? The aspect that I like most is that you can find multiple categories at this sharing hub. I could imagine a family going there and everybody could look at some things they would like to bring home. Personally, I have a lot of items at home that are still in good condition but that i would like to get rid off. The fact that i would have to go to six different places to make them available for other people /re-usage makes it that most of the things are still in a box somewhere in the back of my closet. So i would definitly go to such a place !
    Maybe there are other services that could be implemented to make it profitable ( cafe or something ?)

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  4. I feel so inspired by all the sharing-initiatives you describe. Such a city would be like a Utopia! But I’m also kind of worried how this would work in the long run. For example, I myself was part of a language learning community. A nice initiative which connects people to native speakers of the language they want to learn. In return you offer your skills to teach someone – in my case – Dutch. The first few weeks it worked wonderfully. But then I got busier and noticed I dashed off the Dutch lessons. Moreover, I detected the same with my French lessons. Our whole society is so used to be a consumer in transactions, how do we learn to truly share (again)? How do you think we could tackle this deep engrained individualistic consumerism of the modern era?

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  5. I dont’s see a large sharing economy come anytime soon, altough you see on a small scale (sharing books, carpooling) that it works. I think that people want things to be their own, this way only the lower quality stuff will enter the second-hand market. It’s like what Laura said, we need a society that embraces sharing.

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