In Japan it is common for parents to take their children to a community play center where there are toys to check out. In London there is an ‘everything library’ with household items such as vacuums, sewing machines, and drills for neighbors to borrow the tools they need. And many university gyms now carry outdoor recreation equipment such as tents and kayaks that can be loaned or rented by students for weekend getaways.
David Karp, the founder of Tumblr, and a man worth $200 Million by the age of 25 exemplifies this. He owns almost nothing. His 1,700 square foot apartment in Brooklyn is empty apart from a TV, sofa, and bed. ‘I’m always so surprised when people fill their homes up with stuff’ he says. When Karp needs stuff, he can access it. (1)
There is a growing preference for access over ownership. This is appearing everywhere, and particularly among younger generations. (2) This ‘asset light’ mindset is acutely sensitive to the tediousness of owning things and is more prone to borrow, rent and share.
This shared economy and lightweight lifestyle is entering much of our lives. Ownership is abandoned in favor of access and sharing. These global citizens and their lightweight mindset are challenging attitudes towards virtually all areas of society, shaping how we live and consume. These lightweight lifestylists search the net when they need something and create their own rules. Open to new cultures, they happily migrate for career and life experiences – adopting ‘lightweight’ as their new norm and favoring access over possessions.
In the past we would collect treasured items. Today we collect treasured experiences that can be shared. This is spreading into cars, bicycles, workspaces and even living spaces. Online communities and affinity networks have made people more open to the idea of sharing with strangers, meaning that the trust barriers are breaking down more readily.
Increasingly people are concluding that there is more to life than just owning ‘stuff’. They willingly adapt to ‘lightweight’ cost-friendly subscription over ‘heavy’ cost-intense ownership – and freedom from the trappings of possessions makes them agile and mobile. And this mobility is creating a new wave of global citizens who are more globally minded.
Millions of young people are abandoning their thirst to own cars. New cars purchased by young Americans aged 18 to 34 has dropped over 25% in the past decade. What was once a symbol of freedom is now viewed as a ball and chain.
And in real estate people are abandoning home ownership in favor of flexibility and mobility. And household boundaries are being challenged and redefined. Renters can book a night to stay in a strangers’ extra bedroom. And people are opting for less individual space in exchange for more shared space. Technology solutions are facilitating these desires and redefining ownership and use of the built environment.
Welcome to the new global citizens and the lightweight lifestyle that makes it possible. Create the lifestyle that best fits you and your circumstances. The adage is you can ‘multiply and manage or simplify and serve’. And how you choose to serve or help others in the world is up to you.
By Scott Huish
Scott Huish has directed technology driven companies in finance, agriculture, energy, construction, and real estate. Scott has completed advanced education at Oxford, Harvard, and London School of Economics and Political Science.