GOOD

Sharing is Car-ing

On the (financial) value of sharing. By Robin Chase, as told to Eric Steuer. Robin Chase founded Zipcar, the company that...

On the (financial) value of sharing. By Robin Chase, as told to Eric Steuer.

Robin Chase founded Zipcar, the company that allows users to buy time in shared cars, in 1999. Now she has turned her attention to carpooling with GoLoco, a website she founded that allows you to use your social networks for cost-saving ride-sharing.We have to get to a place where we are leveraging every investment and maximizing its utility. Zipcar is a good example of that. In older days, we would each own our entire car by ourselves, and it would sit idle for 22 hours a day. Zipcar developed a platform for people to share cars, and now we only pay for the amount we use. What strikes me about that example is that we-as individuals, as companies, and as governments-all have excess capacity that lies idle. And when we have this excess capacity, we're paying the entire cost and reaping all the benefits that we want. But there's typically a huge amount of excess benefit that's going nowhere while we're absorbing all the costs. I like the idea of us thinking as a society about ways in which we can create platforms for other people to share in that excess capacity.I didn't think about these principles when I founded Zipcar, but what I saw at that time was a leveraging of scarce and expensive resources. I would say that today, as a planet, we have many more scarce and expensive resources than we ever imagined before. We need to be thinking about how we can maximize the utility and benefit we get out of our individual budgets. And the way to do that is by multipurposing every asset we have, and every investment we make, so that we don't have to buy seven different devices. We can buy one device.A wonderful example is the transponders that people have in their cars that are used for collecting tolls. It's a $30 device that is used 30 seconds in a month. If we could look at that device and multipurpose it, make it open so people could add their applications on top of it, it could become a mobile internet provider or something like that. It could be that, by letting others get into that transponder, there might be fabulous other opportunities that EZ Pass (for example) isn't thinking of. I can't predict today what would be useful. I could make up a couple of things, but I don't have to if it's an open device and an open network-innovators and entrepreneurs around the country will be thinking of ways to exploit it and leverage those investments we've already made.GoLoco offers the opportunity at the personal level to say, Where do I have incredible excess capacity in my car trip? Eighty-six percent of the trips we take in our cars we take alone. Each one of those trips costs about 50 cents a mile, so it starts to add up-to about $8,000 a year. So there's a real cost that we're incurring personally when we choose to drive alone in our cars and not take the extra effort to see if we can share that ride and share those costs. But there are unintended benefits from sharing any kind of resource-with carpooling, you get to spend time with people you know and like, make great networks, and meet new people. I look at that and I think that's just another place where it's a very high-cost resource that all of us have that we are squandering.


Articles
Photo by Josh Couch on Unsplash

Christopher Columbus, Alexander Hamilton, William Shakespeare, and Sir Walter Scott are getting company. Statues of the famous men are scattered across Central Park in New York City, along with 19 others. But they'll finally be joined by a few women.

Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth are the subjects of a new statue that will be on display along The Mall, a walkway that runs through the park from 66th to 72nd street. It will be dedicated in August of next year, which is fittingly the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote.

Currently, just 3% of statues in New York City are dedicated to women. Out of 150 statues of historical figures across the city, only five statues are of historical women, including Joan of Arc, Golda Meir, Gertrude Stein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Harriet Tubman.

Keep Reading Show less
promo-homepage

It's easy to become calloused to everyday headlines with messages like, "the world is ending" and "everything is going extinct." They're so prevalent, in fact, that the severity of these statements has completely diminished to the point that no one pays them any attention. This environmental negativity (coined "eco-phobia") has led us to believe that all hope is lost for wildlife. But luckily, that isn't the case.

Historically, we have waited until something is near the complete point of collapse, then fought and clawed to bring the species numbers back up. But oftentimes we wait so long that it's too late. Creatures vanish from the Earth altogether. They go extinct. And even though I don't think for a single second that we should downplay the severity of extinction, if we can flip this on its head and show that every once in a while a species we have given up on is actually still out there, hanging on by a thread against all odds, that is a story that deserves to be told. A tragic story of loss becomes one about an animal that deserves a shot at preservation and a message of hope the world deserves to hear.

As a wildlife biologist and tracker who has dedicated his life to the pursuit of animals I believe have been wrongfully deemed extinct, I spend most of my time in super remote corners of the Earth, hoping to find some shred of evidence that these incredible creatures are still out there. And to be frank, I'm pretty damn good at it!

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
NHM Vienna/Hans Reschreiter

Wealth inequality has been a hot topic of discussion as of late, but it's something that's occurred all throughout history. Class structure is a complicated issue, especially when you consider that haves and have nots have been in existence for over 4,000 years.

A study published in Science took a look at over 100 late Neolithic and early Bronze Age skeletons found in a burial site in southern Germany. The study "shed light on the complexity of social status, inheritance rules, and mobility during the Bronze Age." Partly by looking at their teeth and the artifacts they were buried with, researchers were able to discover that wealth inequality existed almost 4,000 years ago. "Our results reveal that individual households lasting several generations consisted of a high-status core family and unrelated low-status individuals, a social organization accompanied by patrilocality and female exogamy, and the stability of this system over 700 years," the study said.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Truthout.org / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics