freecycle dot orgForty years ago, Bob wrote about an idea that may finally be gaining adherents. As a homeowner, he thought it was ridiculous that everybody on the block had their own lawnmower. Why not just have one and pass it around? Why try to own everything if you can share it? To pay for repairs or replacement, you would all contribute to a common fund, maybe monthly or once a year. It took the Internet to move this idea along.

People are now sharing tools and toys using apps like “Freecycle,” amounting to 700 million pounds of used items last year, according to a recent report by author Jeremy Rifkin. If those items were stacked in garbage trucks, they’d reach over thirteen times the height of Mount Everest.

Over 800,000 people in the U.S. now use car-sharing services like ZipCar.  In New York, thousands of homes and apartments are shared to save the cost of hotel rooms. Over 416,000  people use the web app “Airbnb” to find a place to stay when they travel. It’s the start of a long trend, and Bob notes that the interests that will be arrayed against it are large and digging in. (Hotels, for example.)

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