Over the years, a variety of potential donors have approached us about investigating different issue areas. Often, it’s been a political issue or something outside our focus of sustainability and government ethics, and we’ve declined.
Recently, we were approached by a home sharing company that is concerned about efforts by the hotel lobby to block the growth of home sharing travel.
We were initially skeptical. However, as we’ve looked into it, the experts who have thought about what a sustainable economy would be like are consistent in their view that it would be based on resource sharing, otherwise known as “the sharing economy.” In short, there’s a legitimate case that the success of the new crop of sharing economy companies will help to drive the evolution of the U.S. economy onto more sustainable footing.
The sharing economy is now a burgeoning worldwide movement and the Millennial generation of consumers is leading this wave.
German Professor Dr. Harald Heinrichs writes in Sharing Economy: A Potential New Pathway to Sustainability, “There is consensus among sustainability experts that transformative policies in social and economic spheres are needed” when the global outlook for the environment is critical.
We have used both Airbnb and VRBO in the U.S. and abroad. Based on our experience and the view of experts, it seems apparent that home sharing can help to address the critical issue of decarbonizing our environment by reducing the need to build, heat and cool new hotel rooms that sit empty an average of 35% of the time. It also is apparent that the incumbent hotel industry would fight the growth of the sharing economy.
In a recent ranking of America’s Greenest Companies 2015, only two hotel chains – Marriott at 231 and Starwood at 256 – made the list of 494 companies.
We’re continuing to investigate this subject area. It’s worth noting that there are few, if any, philanthropic sources of funding supporting the sharing economy. Therefore, to pursue this probe we would be accepting funding from the home sharing industry (as we openly do from climate solutions technology companies), along with support from other public and private funders.
As readers, we would like to get your thoughts. Please contact us at [email protected].
Scott Peterson is executive director of Checks and Balances Project, a national watchdog blog that seeks to hold government officials, lobbyists and corporate management accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP comes from sustainable economy philanthropies and donors.