Blog We can’t leave the sharing economy to the tech giants Much to the bemusement of those I know, I never joined Facebook. I felt uncomfortable about a multi-national corporation holding large amounts of personal data. Facebook has always realised that this is a concern for many and has constantly painted itself as a positive social connector bringing people and societies together. The reality seems to be somewhat darker as the on-going election rigging investigations are revealing. The same cloak of respectability is being used by tech giants such as AirBnB and Uber who are using the multiple benefits of promoting the sharing economy to provide a veneer of social acceptability for their growth. What is not to like about maximising the use of existing resources for the benefits of many? However, these companies are not interested in sharing the marketplace that they have created and instead aim to create monopolies that extract maximum value from the data they hold and the revenue generated from users. At Hubbub we think the real sharing economy is where people share skills, information, knowledge and assets with each other in a way that creates additional value for everyone. This is a different model that is locally owned and created to meet the needs of the local community. One example is the Community Fridge Network. There are now 30 Community Fridges established across the UK. These Fridges are run by local community groups redistributing healthy perishable food that would have been wasted to members of the local community. Most of the food comes from local retailers but some is shared between local families. This thriving network is aiming to develop spaces where people can learn new cooking skills, make new contacts and get the most value from food that would have been wasted. The fast growing Library of Things is on a mission to make borrowing better than buying. This is a place where you can borrow useful items like DIY tools, gardening equipment, kitchenware, camping kit and events equipment. The social enterprise is driven by the belief that people are happier and healthier when they are able to share skills and things they need with others in their locality. These examples are currently small scale created by passionate individuals, but if they become mainstream they could address some of the fundamental problems society faces. They can help relieve financial hardship by redistributing surplus items that would have been wasted to local households helping to save money. Environmentally community sharing maximises the value gained from existing resources reducing the pressure to constantly buy new things. Community sharing relies on trust creating new bonds between communities. Sharing skills and knowledge builds stronger societies help people become more independent. Campaigns such as these also have some unexpected benefits many people have limited living space and not having to own so much stuff helps declutter homes giving more room for householders to enjoy. Currently this community sharing model is nowhere near mainstream debate. Should it start to surface new thinking will need to emerge. Government at all levels will need to think about ownership of land making more of it available for public good rather than private gain. Businesses will have to explore new models seeking to generate profit by offering services rather than product. NGOs will need to rethink community development exploring how sharing can address social and financial challenges. It may be a utopian dream to think that community sharing will start to operate at scale, but there are stirrings of a new movement at a grass-roots level and Hubbub will do all we can to help these groups flourish.