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Can the Sharing Economy Cross to the Mainstream?

Following years of consumerism, technology has offered new interpretations of ownership. Competitive services touting the benefits of “sharing” and “access over ownership” have gained ground as viable alternatives. Consumers have revisited past generations’ routines of sharing, swapping, lending, and bartering. Businesses are allowing access to both tangible items and less tangible assets of space and skills. Sharing services are progressively gaining traction in densely populated areas. However, the question remains as to whether they can cross to the mainstream and gain massive adoption?

Enacting consumer behavior change is a challenging endeavor. In a recent review of consumer behavior change, psychologists Wendy Wood and David Neal suggest that consumers often “act like creatures of habit, automatically repeating past behavior with little regard to current goals and valued outcomes.”

In contrast to ownership, the sharing economy while founded on the concepts of community and sharing, attempts to find value through financial savings for consumers. Like the sharing economy, sustainability initiatives are focused on advancing social equity. Both sustainability and the sharing economy minimize waste, optimize the allocation of resources and reduce carbon emissions with communities. When considering their adoption, however, it seems to come down to the intent and behavior of the individual.

Recent findings suggest that pro-environmental campaigns emphasizing financial savings (self-interested) over protecting the environment (self-transcending) have generally been ineffective. Although advocates promoted financial benefits in order to accelerate adoption of eco-friendly behaviors (i.e., saving energy results in lower bills), researchers Thogersen and Crompton found that financial incentives may make people less likely to carry out environmental actions in general. Self-interested values, such as economic welfare, wealth and power were found to be in conflict with the self-transcending values of protecting the environment.

Another study, conducted by researchers Fowler and Christakis, reveals that acts of kindness and generosity travel in social networks up to three degrees of separation. They believe that “cooperative behavior cascades in human social networks” and that “there is a deep and fundamental connection between social networks and goodness.” They added that “groups with altruists in them will be more likely to survive than selfish groups.”

The resounding message of the sharing economy is that it fosters relationships and builds communities. So far, it has focused primarily on the self-interested values of saving money and making money from the idle resources in order to appeal to consumers. The sharing economy should incorporate self-transcending values such as sustainability and goodness to its core message in order to achieve behavior change and cross to the mainstream. 


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Building Smarter Communities with Tradepal

Our mission, at Tradepal, is to power peer-to-peer commerce. Our goal is to contribute to building smarter communities. Our passion is to encourage the Forgotten R of the Environment: Reuse. 

We empower users to bring ReUse back into the sustainability equation by providing a simple way to list, share and trade unused items.


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Trust in P2P Transactions

Trust is the foundation of all economic transactions, in the real world and on the Web. The crucial difference between the two is that in the real world, we have ways of judging whether our counterpart is trustworthy, whereas on the Web, we usually transact with people we have never met. Especially in the growing sector of peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms, users share very valuable assets such as houses and cars, exposing them to higher risk than in classic e-commerce. According to a recent study by Campbell Mithun, trust concerns are the number one barrier to sharing on collaborative consumption platforms. This indicates that as the sharing economy grows, a foundation of trust between users is necessary to lower their perceived risk of participating in P2P marketplaces. 

I investigated this topic further in my bachelor thesis titled Building Trust in P2P Marketplaces: an Empirical Analysis of Trust Systems for the Sharing Economy. I received many interesting insights by interviewing people from across the globe such as researchers, social innovators, P2P platforms as well as startups attempting to create online trust systems. 

A number of tools that help users judge each other’s trustworthiness online already exists. Five-star rating systems as popularized by eBay are a very common type of feedback system. These ratings are often accompanied by user comments and reviews to provide descriptive information about a transaction. On platforms such as Taskrabbit, identity verification by phone and email as well as background checks are tools used to ensure safety. Further tools that verify identities and let users tap into their existing social networks when joining a new site are social media connect buttons (for example Facebook Connect). Several startups such as TrustCloud, Briiefly, Legit and PeerTrust are attempting to merge these tools into one trust system that allows users to take their online reputation with them wherever they go. 

Apart from these tools my findings suggest that online communities can also foster trust. According to an interviewee, tight-knit communities of people with similar interests, tastes and values can function as a type of trust system. This is the case at the German ridesharing company, where most users have in common that they are current or former students. 

Guest Blogger: Francesca Pick 

Francesca studied Communication and Cultural Management at Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen, Germany. To read more of her research, please visit the full thesis.


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The Power Of Now


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The first Memorial Day took place on May 1, 1865 in Charleston, SC, after a group of African-Americans, mostly former slaves, gave 257 Union soldiers a proper burial. It was then called "Decoration Day".

The first Memorial Day took place on May 1, 1865 in Charleston, SC, after a group of African-Americans, mostly former slaves, gave 257 Union soldiers a proper burial. It was then called "Decoration Day".


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Quantify Your Carbon Savings from P2P Reuse on Tradepal


by Tamar Burton

This Earth Day we unite in support of a healthy planet by inspiring change. As part of the 2012 theme Mobilize the Earth, and the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSDA) in Rio de Janeiro, Rio +20  we encourage everyone to proactively engage in ways that will create a quantifiable outcome by organizing events, volunteering and promoting renewable energy initiatives, and finally pledging support to a Billion Acts of Green. Now with over 997 million acts pledged and counting, our actions today will help to develop a comprehensive plan for sustainable development while inspiring the change necessary to get our world leaders to take bold energy action. 

In honor of Earth Day, we at Tradepal, suggest that you evaluate your carbon footprint and the many ways you can help the environment by reducing, recycling and reusing. To the many supporters of collaborative consumption, we encourage you to quantify the carbon savings your actions generate in changing users’ behaviors with services such as bike, car and ride sharing, swapping and trading. 

Senator Gaylord Nelson, the originator of the Earth Day holiday in 1970: 

"The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, not the other way around."

Tradepal users save money and the environment when trading on our platform. They also have access to a dedicated calculator that quantifies their carbon savings derived from all their trading on the platform. It is surprising to discover the exact amount of carbon savings you have accumulated while trading and giving items away. 

On Tradepal, users may quantify their carbon savings both individually and as a group:

  • individual users who have excess electronics, video games or consumer goods
  • networks such as churches, charities and schools 
  • organizations including local businesses and corporations  
  • cities whose communities need an alternative to yard sales

Gamification Feature:  The Carbon Savings Calculator

It might seem trivial initially, but watching your carbon savings increase with each trade  is truly fulfilling. According to my Tradepal user profile, I have accumulated 354 kg of carbon savings over the past six months. While not sure what it exactly meant, I simply plugged my Tradepal Carbon Savings amount into the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator

The following highlights some significant equivalents of my savings: 

  • Carbon sequestered by 9 tree seedlings grown for 10 years 
  • CO2 emissions from 14 propane cylinders used for home BBQs
  • CO2 emissions from 39 gallons of gasoline consumed 


Additional Reading:

Trendsetting Women Leading Peer-to-Peer Marketplaces

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Are Yard Sales Losing their Curb Appeal?

Spring is the season for enjoying the outdoors and sharing with friends and family. Yet one of our nation’s past times is now under scrutiny. A growing issue for municipalities is the increasing complaints received from neighbors of yard sales gone to the extreme. Imagine living near neighbors offering appliances and cars on their lawns. This was the focus of a recent story spurring a sharp debate with more than 400 comments to date. In Delano, Calif., the city has declared a ‘yard sale showdown’ following numerous complaints received from residents of citizens operating business from their homes. 

When thinking of a yard sale, what comes to mind is the additional traffic and visitors entering the neighborhoods in search for bargains. For some, this is welcome as their goal is to share with their neighbors while generating funds from items no longer used. The issue at hand is that many of these so-called yard sales are de facto illegally operating storefronts. For yard sales of the extreme form, it seems a few are ruining it for everyone else.  

"While yard sales provide a great way to re-commerce, they vary by the location and are as unique as each city’s demographic," said Mollie Loeffler, President of the Parklawn Civic Association in Alexandria, VA. "In extreme cases, it is unfortunate when municipalities must take action in order to protect citizens from code compliance issues."

Some of the cities that have enacted restrictions and permit fees are detailed by this recent BusinessWeek article. While the limits vary, cities such as San Angelo, Tx., Phenix City, Ala., and Ontario, Calif., allow for no more than two yard sales per year, yet others including Elkhart, Indiana, allow up to 15 a year. As for fees, in South Greensburg, Pa., citizens must pay a $5 permit fee, while in Miami, Fla., it is as high as $28.

In retrospect, yard sales are a lot of work. From applying and paying for permits, to organizing and pricing items, to driving foot traffic and hopefully making sales, physical garage sales involve too much friction. Tradepal’s peer-to-peer marketplace offers a solution for both municipalities, as well as the weekend garage gal who is planning to move or just wants to de-clutter. The difference is, it doesn’t require a permit or any cash outlay at all. Another benefit is each item can be listed with images in less than a minute. Once all the items are listed, all you do is share the link to your ‘Tradepal virtual garage sale' with your social network. And as simple as that, the offers will start rolling in.

Listing an item is done in less than a minute on Tradepal. For example, type ‘iPhone 3G’ and tradepal will serve you relevant options to choose from to complete your listings in one-click. For books or games, just enter the ISBN number, and the system will automatically upload your listing. If you were planning to move, this service is a great option as you can even list giveaways. The options are endless.


Additional Reading:

Online Marketplace Comparison: eBay vs Craigslist vs Tradepal

Did You Know You Harbored $7,000 in Unused Items

Are Yard Sales Losing Their Curb Appeal?

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Online Marketplace Comparison: eBay Vs. Craigslist Vs. Tradepal

While relocating can be a chore, offering items no longer needed can be fun and rewarding when you know you helped someone. I recently completed the slow and tedious process of selling and giving away household items. One of the larger items I decided to sell was my car which I listed on eBay, Craigslist and Tradepal.  

The process of creating an online vehicle listing was a first, so I followed my checklist to make sure I had everything covered. I reviewed various websites to view how many cars of the same model were being offered and also searched car pricing guides such as the Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds. I also spoke to my car dealer to review the title transfer process and any hidden fees associated. Lastly, I took a bunch of pictures of my vehicle using my smartphone and prepared to create the three listings. 

The process went as follows:


Time Elapsed: 40 minutes to list item with images

Cost: Free for my local neighborhood, additional fees would apply for a national listing.

Results: My Kia listing was removed by eBay and, to my surprise, I received an email notification that I had violated their terms of use. See email below. 

After reviewing the information, and feeling quite perplexed that I violated something, I contacted eBay. I explained the problem to one of their representatives which was followed by a short hold then a series of personal questions that were intended to verify my identity. The monotone agent seemed familiar with my issue as she went through the routine of troubleshooting my problem. 

While still confused I confirmed my education level, where I have worked, and what certifications I have. Finally, I was directed to log back into the eBay website to relist my vehicle. Needless to say, I was a bit aggravated having spent over an hour listing, responding to a delisting email, speaking with two representatives and taking a test to ultimately confirm my identity in order to list my own car for sale. I inquired as to what I actually violated by my vehicle listing, and received a vague explanation that it was because I was a new user. A new user? While not feeling very welcome, I proceeded to relist my vehicle as I had so much time invested at this juncture. 

Auto reinstatement email:


Time Elapsed:  Approximately 10 minutes to list an item with one image. 

Cost: Free 

Results: Followed their standard email verification process as shown below. I was approved to go live and received about six inquiries on the vehicle. The details that follow explain the care needed when using this service as is evident in the initial verification email below that follows each listing request.

Unfortunately, one of the inquiries I received three days later was from Root Ninja although it stated Kamari True as the contact name. UnknowingIy I was being lured, and I almost clicked the link provided which could have been disastrous had I not realized it in time.  

Following a search using the sentence in the email, it was evident that I had been sent a malicious email from Root Ninja which was identified as follows:

In addition, I felt uneasy about providing my location and my cell phone number to prospective anonymous buyers who emailed me.


Time Elapsed:  Four minutes to list including four images of the vehicle.

Cost: Free to list and share with no geographical restrictions.

Results: I shared the listing with my Tradepal and Facebook friends, and Twitter followers. Within the first ten minutes, I garnered over 100 views. Within the next 24 hours, the listing had generated over 400 views.

As the head of brand development at tradepal, I tend to think I am biased. But this experience is a reminder of the real pain encountered by the general public while using online marketplaces such as eBay and Craigslist. At tradepal, we are striving to solve these exact problems. Users should be able to list, share and promote their items quickly and for free. Most importantly, they should be able to communicate and trade with peers in confidence. 

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Spring Cleaning Tips for Procrastinators

Just in case you have been procrastinating on your spring cleaning, ButtonedUp has created a list to assist you and offers advice on hosting a virtual yard sale. While Tradepal provides a great service when de-cluttering, it is also useful when:

  • moving
  • selling art 
  • reducing your fashion collection
  • upgrading to the latest electronics
  • reducing your collection of videos
  • trading baby items, and much more

The best features include the ability to list a variety of items, share them with connections who, by the way, use their ‘real identities’, and this process requires only a minute from loading the image to completing the listing. Yes, only a minute!

As varied as the items offered by each user, are the variety of ways for users to transact. While the traditional buy and sell transaction is one option, users may also offer giveaways. For users seeking a trade, they may barter for items by selecting Make Offer to entertain a trade for items listed within their tradepal profile, or maybe a trade plus cash. It’s up to the two parties to decide and the transaction is done privately via their tradepal dashboards.

To read the list, visit ButtonedUp offers 10 easy spring-cleaning shortcuts

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Soul Kitchen: the Sharing Economy’s Restaurant Option

The JBJ Soul Kitchen redefines community by offering healthy restaurant fare and a unique way to pay it forward. In an effort to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty, last October the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation launched its’ community kitchen concept. Focusing on volunteerism with a “pay-what-you-can” option, the unique non-profit community program offers a menu devoid of prices. 

The Red Bank, New Jersey restaurant is inspired by chefs and volunteers who prepare healthy three-course meals while helping out neighbors who are less fortunate. The stigma-free kitchen expands on the sharing economy by offering a dining experience where patrons don’t owe anything, but if they can contribute, the Soul Kitchen will accept cash donations or volunteering in exchange for a meal.

For as little as $10 per meal, the non-profit can cover the cost of a meal, while anything extra will help cover someone else’s meal. Volunteer options include cooking, cleaning, serving others, busing tables and even stocking shelves at the restaurant. Now in its fifth year as a non-profit, in addition to the community kitchen, the foundation partners with local charities and churches to provide support, job skills and housing for those in need.

Kitchen 2 from JBJ Soul Kitchen on Vimeo.


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A Wrap-up of SxSWi 2012 by the Tradepal Team


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Moving Sale Tale On Tradepal

As I am preparing to move Tradepal to San Francisco, I also have to manage my personal move. I have to deal with furniture, utilities, contracts, apartments, leases, cars, bank accounts, etc. 

For my moving sale, I decided to exclusively list my furniture and electronics here on Tradepal. It took about 30 minutes to list all the items, and while I am writing this post, the first transaction went through: $450 straight to my paypal account. Keep’em coming!

And now off to St Patty’s celebrations!

Karim Guessous

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7 Ways to Take Your Leap Day into the Sharing Economy

On February 29th we celebrate a once-every-four-year event as we get an extra day added to our 365 day calendar year. In honor of Leap Day, why not celebrate this ‘extra day’ by taking a leap into collaborative consumption and adopting a new way to help others, help the environment or just help ourselves?
If you are planning to attend SxSW, then you may already be using a peer-to-peer service like Airbnb, Zipcar, or carpooling to the many events? If so, then you are part of what everyone is talking about. Just two years ago it was viewed as a thing of the future, but collaborative consumption has bypassed its trendy status and has become mainstream.

If you aren’t heading to Austin, Texas, then here are some ways to take a leap and participate:

  1. Do you listen to music online? If you use Spotify and share it with your friends on Facebook, you are driving collaboration as you help others to discover new music.
  2. Have you borrowed a ladder, drill or other tools from a neighbor?  This is also driving the collaborative consumption movement and includes such websites as NeighborGoods to connect people who share.
  3. Feeling charitable? How about helping to fight poverty by providing as little as a $25 microloan through Kiva? You could help a farmer in Nicaragua buy fertilizer and supplies for his crops.
  4. Doing some spring cleaning or planning on moving? Try the latest peer-to-peer marketplace, Tradepal and list some items to giveaway, sell or even barter for something else.
  5. Concerned about the environment? Then join a local bicycle sharing program and start reducing your carbon footprint.
  6. Want to brush up on some skills?  Locate a Skillshare in your community to attend free workshops offered by your neighbors, or maybe offer to train others.
  7. Interested in purchasing organic and high quality food? Support your local farmers and farmers markets while encouraging sustainable agriculture practices that enhance our environment. 

While I narrowed the list to only a weeks worth of options, I could have listed many more. With 1,460 days until the arrival of the next Leap Year in 2016, imagine how our communities would benefit if we made collaborative consumption a habit for the next four years. 

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From Sharing Economy to Sheconomy: The Evolution of Women and their Sphere of Influence

In its’ fourth installment of Women, Power & Money, Fleishman-Hillard and Hearst Magazines have released their survey which highlights the American woman’s “sphere of influence”. The latest study revealed many of the newly adopted traits of women consumers, their new consumer mindsets and redefined shopping habits. 

Women in the digital age continue to evolve following the adoption of mobile technology, social networks, and the increase in marketing messages. With an ever expanding social circle of virtual friends, family and social groups, her sphere of influence has amplified beyond her home, career or family to a media channel as the receiver, influencer and broadcaster of information in the marketplace.  

Women are interested in expressing their ideas and also discovering from these shared experiences. This is evidenced in the sudden growth of the social photo sharing website, Pinterest and the growing focus on collaborative consumption services like Ridejoy, Vayable, Tradepal, Taskrabbit and Airbnb. 

Technology is enabling trust between strangers on a scale that goes beyond what was imagined through bartering, sharing and trading. This was noted in the study as from the years 2008 to 2011, there was an increase from 31% to 50% in women surveyed who claimed they regularly influence friends and family on purchasing decisions. 

What this means for brands is rather than narrowing their message, they must adapt to target a varied constituency of American women who view themselves as successful and seriously assert their role as decision-maker. Woman have shifted their purchasing criteria toward the practical, value-oriented with a greater desire for substance over sizzle. 

As peer-based influence continues to grow, the issue of how we can better manage our consumption will continue to evolve. The area of collaborative consumption is now hitting the mainstream media as prosumers continue to look for better ways to consume and not go back to their prior habits.  

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The Third Wave of the Internet Powered by the Sharing Economy

This past January, Brian Chesky Co-Founder and CEO of Airbnb presented his views on the sharing economy and his future vision for Airbnb during his keynote at DLD 2012 in Munich. A native New Yorker, he gave many comparisons of peoples’ natural tendency to share. Dating as far back as 45,000 years ago, people were ‘hardwired to share’ and this was how tribes survived, according to Chesky. 

"Before World War II, people shared. Following that timeframe, Americans were told to spend and to help stimulate the economy…and eventually people stopped sharing. Over the last 50 years we have consumed more than in the entire human history before that period."

Now 60 years in the future, the ‘new’ movement is coined the sharing economy. In his keynote, Brian Chesky states, “the average person uses one-third of every paycheck to cover their housing, and another $8,000 annually for car expenses”. 

The sharing economy enables people to make extra money with the assets they aren’t using. Chesky asserts that in 1995, the first wave of the Internet brought consumers online while the second wave connected them together through social networks. He refers to the new wave, the ‘third wave of the Internet’ as the convergence of online with the offline world; people become more social and share offline experiences.

Examples found in the sharing economy: 

Space Share - Airbnb, Loosecubes, Coworking spaces

Car Share - RelayRides, Zipcar, Getaround

Task Share - Taskrabbit

Peer-to-Peer Marketplaces - Farmers Markets, Tradepal, ThredUP

Experience Share - GuideHop

In view of the revitalization of sharing, Chesky stated,

"We used to try to keep up with the Jones’ and now we are sharing with the Jones’." 

Chesky shared his company’s vision to stimulate local businesses by enabling access to spaces. He hopes Airbnb will be the “protagonist” in helping expand the sharing economy by allowing people to ultimately gain access to any city, and be able to share any asset, any space within the next two years.

In contrast to the green movement of the early 2000s, the sharing economy is not evangelizing that we must sacrifice in order to save the world, but Chesky suggests, 

"What if it was actually better for us. We could save more money, have a more social life, share more and make the environment better."

In closing, Chesky asserted that with a broader currency of trust, where we all have online reputations, we all could have access to more. In 2011, 5 million nights were booked on Airbnb. Access is more powerful than ownership. 


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