Going Green: Why Buy When You Can Borrow?

Green Week to On the Money is all about going green while saving green in the process. On Tuesday, the focus was product libraries. Think about it – why buy when you can borrow and help lower your carbon footprint?

Graham Hill, founder of Treehugger.com and vice president of Interactive Planet Green, said that instead of going to the library and hoping a book is available, now you can rent it from Bookrenter.com, the Netflix of books.

Another borrowing site, Neighborrow.com, lets you find a use for the stuff you already have as well find the stuff you need. It’s basically just a return to the kindergarten adage about the importance of sharing, Hill said.

And why own one car when you can own dozens? Zipcar offers you the chance to use a car only when you need it, and offers plenty of fuel-efficient vehicles and – best of all – the gas is free. They provide a gas card that stays with the car and all you do is swipe it when you need a fill up.

Product service systems and borrowing sites like these are rapidly growing, Hill said. He believes it's because of a changing worldview about ownership. Now, it's about access. You don't want the drill, you want the hole, as he put it. And this changing mindset about how we get access to the things we need is driving a new web-based culture that is as much about going green as it is about saving green.