GardenShare is an initiative that aims to increase community sharing of typical household garden and lawn equipment, in an effort to reduce consumption, improve environmental health and build healthy neighbourhoods.
The Shared Economy is one of the biggest trends in the marketplace today. Following pioneers such as Autoshare launching the car sharing movement in Canada over a decade ago, many new entrants have entered this space. According to Frost & Sullivan, car-sharing revenues in North America alone will hit $3.3 billion by 2016. And Botsman says the consumer peer-to-peer rental market will become a $26 billion sector, and believes the sharing economy, in total, is a $110 billion-plus market.
Summerhill Impact’s GardenShare project builds on the concept that the public (especially the burgeoning “New Consumer” market of 25-35 year olds) are interested in environmental initiatives that may have additional value to them, beyond the “feel good”. GardenShare allows any homeowner to work with their neighbourhood to create a community garden shed, where members can access items such as lawnmowers, weed-whackers and power tools for the short time they need it. This avoids issues such as storage, up front cost of typical garden items and dependency on things that are used so infrequently (it is estimated that the average power drill is only used for 15 total minutes in its lifetime!). Clearly, there is opportunity to transform the superfluous consumptive habits of North Americans, by providing a simple way to deliver the service they need, without being locked to the product itself.
The objective of Gardenshare is to launch community garden sheds in 25-50 neighbourhoods in Toronto. We believe the appetite for such an initiative is here, and participants will be lining up to participate. We will use mobile technology and Facebook as the interface for participants and bring in partners (e.g. retailers, manufacturers) to provide added value.
The emissions reduction from the Gardenshare program is more indirect than direct. This includes:
- Reduced VKT trips to retail
- Reduced embedded GHGs in the manufacturing and shipping of heavy equipment
- Increased uptake of additional behaviour change – including xeriscaping, tree planting, rain barrels, local food
- Reduced heat island effect
Engaging the public in behaviour change and actions that lead to environmental and social improvements are essential for addressing climate change, improving air quality, increasing social well-being and supporting the development of progressive public policy.
Since 2000, Summerhill Impact (a national not-for-profit organization) has been committed to creating and implementing strategic initiatives which generate sustained environmental and social improvements, by developing partnerships and engaging the public, to influence consumer behaviour.
Some of our initiatives and results include:
- Mow Down Pollution (lawnmower retirement program) – 45,650 inefficient mowers and trimmers have been retired, resulting in the reduction of 748 tonnes of greenhouse gas and smog forming emissions
- Retire Your Ride/Car Heaven (vehicle retirement program) – 260,791 old gas guzzling cars have been retired and responsibly recycled since 2000, resulting in 9,900 tonnes of smog-forming emissions
- Switch Out (mercury switch collection) – 477,708 automotive mercury switches collected to date across Canada, representing 278 kg of mercury
- Switch the ‘Stat (mercurt thermostat collection) – over 68,000 thermostats collected, representing 138 kg of mercury
- Keep Cool (room air conditioner retirement) – over 45,600 room air conditioners retired, representing over 30 MW of energy savings
To date, Summerhill Impact’s work has focused on encouraging the public to take an action that reduces their environmental impact. Many of these programs revolve around getting the public to retire old inefficient products, in favour of better choice products. We feel, now, its time to ask people not to consumer in the first place. What makes GardenShare unique and innovative is that it will be the first opportunity for people in Toronto to reduce their superfluous consumptive habits, and join their community in an effort that helps them reduce their environmental impact and clutter and simplifying their life.
Like every Summerhill initiative, we leverage the needs and resources of the private, public and not-for-profit sector to create actions that sustain environmental results. Summerhill will work with home and garden retailers and manufacturers to leverage additional opportunities for the public to take action.
The venture is meant to be supported in similar fashion to many of Summerhill Impact’s social ventures – through leveraging private and public sector resources to drive social and environmental change. Governments, retailers and manufacturers all have a natural stake in an initiative like GardenShed and our approach is to balance our social and environmental mission against the needs and priorities of those natural stakeholders.
Self-supporting GardenShare will come from two key elements:
- Membership fees
- Partnerships with retailers and manufacturers – data about participants’ household behaviour related to gardening and home improvement is valuable to retailers and manufacturers of said products. Opportunities exist to leverage special offers with retailers on additive products (e.g. soil, mulch etc.).