When you think of examples of the sharing or access economy, the likely examples that come up will revolve around cars: Zipcar, RelayRides, etc. But the sharing of resources continues to expand into a number of categories even education. But what about the humble washing machine?
In many places, especially dense urban areas, it’s not uncommon for people to not have a washing machine. In France, a new endeavor called La Machine du Voisin (“The Neighbor’s Machine”) has launched in an effort to connect those who have machines with those who need one. Now one might say, why wouldn’t people just go to laundromats rather than going to a person’s home, and why would someone want give access to their machine to people from the public?
Simple: the potential for much greater proximity for the washer and profit for the machine owner.
The impact of such exchanges, if a level of scale is achieved, could be substantial: A closer washing machine might mean reduced time, miles driven, and pollution spent transporting clothes. Beyond that though, these interactions can’t help but connect and foster community.
The process is simple: Machine owners describe their machine’s capacity and capabilities, plus what they’d like to charge for its use, along with their location. Seekers enter their location and are shown all results within 500 meters of them, including reviews from other users.
The question remains, will people take to this sort of exchange? According to the site, more than 1100 people have signed on in the last 3 months. Would it take off in America, where people are perhaps more security conscious and wary? With proper trust and vetting measures in place, perhaps. It could prove quite popular in college towns in addition to dense urban environments.
Readers: What’s your thoughts on this initiative? How could it be improved? What would need to be added/changed to make it work in your part of the world?
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, global trend tracker, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.
Image via Diego3336, under Creative Commons License