Louise Kennedy writes:

The Sustainable Brands Conference arrives in London on November 27th and 28th – providing an opportunity for sustainability leaders, strategists and innovation specialists to discuss how businesses and brands can innovate towards a sustainable and successful future. We are pleased to be media partners at this event and will be covering highlights from the event on our blog and newsletter. To preview to the conference, we’ve spoken to Benita Matofska, Founder of The People Who Share – a social enterprise dedicated to building the ‘sharing economy’. Benita will be leading a session on Tuesday 27th ‘The advent of the sharing economy and what it means to your brand.’

Tell us something about the ‘sharing economy’?

We’re living in a world with finite resources where we’re consuming above and beyond our means. Something needs to change, there needs to be a significant shift in how businesses operate in terms of supply chains and ownership. We need to start thinking about access, rather than ownership because our resources will one day run out. For businesses to survive – and for society to function – we will need to share. For businesses with a commitment to sustainability, a commitment to the sharing economy must be central to their agenda.

The People Who Share is a social enterprise that’s committed to driving the value of the sharing economy, how does it work?

The People Who Share was founded in January 2011 with the mission of changing the world through sharing. It works on a partnership model bringing together sustainable, collaborative organisations in one place. We work with 165 partners across the globe, from publishers such as Sharable Magazine, to newer collaborative brands like AirBnB. It’s not about having offices across the globe, it’s about sharing resources to build a network of like-minded organisations. Through our network we build awareness of the sharing economy with mass engagement campaigns such as National Sharing Day, Global Sharing Day and collaboration events.

You’re also founding the first global sharing marketplace…

We’re also building the first global sharing marketplace – compareandshare.com – which will act as a hub for the sharing economy. At the moment we promote sustainable transport options through car sharing schemes. In future we will have a range of sharing products and services from travel, property and skills.

Who do you work with?

We work with a range of global brands across the sustainability spectrum. We have an established relationship with the UK retailer M&S who sponsored last week’s Global Sharing Day. M&S realised that they needed to change the way they do business, it shouldn’t just be about selling products. One day they ‘woke up and smelled the coffee’- they needed to start sharing. Their clothes ‘Schwopping’ campaign was born, encouraging people to share the lifecycle of their clothes.

Which brands do you think need to listen up before it’s too late?

Retail brands need to be taking note. They need to think about how to share the lifecycle of the goods they sell because as a society, we’re consuming far beyond sustainable levels. Whether it’s a brand like H&M, Ikea or B&Q, they have the responsibility to think about how to be genuinely sustainable in the future. That might be through generating no waste from products or reducing or eliminating packaging – the key is thinking about how to incorporate sharing into the supply chain and overall business model. Brands that are built on these things will be increasingly successful. For example, B&Q could have a rental model for their products based on the fact that power drills are used for only 11 minutes in their lives – this would maximise the lifecycle of their products and drive a new revenue stream.

What do you want to get out of your Sustainable Brands conference session on ‘The advent of the sharing economy and what it means to your brand’?

We want brands and businesses to understand that they can’t be committed to sustainability without being committed to the sharing economy and making it part of their sustainability agenda. It might not be cheap to make these changes, but businesses can’t afford not to. Without sharing, there won’t be a future for their business, it’s how they will make money.

Catch Benita’s session at The Sustainable Brands Conference in London on Tuesday November 27th. Get 20% off registration when you use this code: nwfuturesSB


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