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Sharing a car or renting an apartment with others could be efficient ways to help the environment.
That was the message of one environmental planning expert who said sharing goods, services and spaces can greatly benefit the environment.
Valerie Brachya is director of the Environmental Policy Center at The Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies and one of the heads of its Urban Sustainability project, along with Tami Gavrieli, director of the JIIS’s Sustainability Research Center.
Before working at the JIIS, she was the senior director-general of policy and planning at the Environmental Protection Ministry, spending 35 years there, only two years after making aliya from London in 1972.
She said that the Urban Sustainability project has been researching social behaviors and noticed a willingness to move away from individual ownership of goods, space and services, especially among the Millennial Generation – those between 18 and 35. This mindset has led to the rise of the “sharing economy,” she said.
“If we can live a lifestyle of sharing space and goods, then we will reduce the amount of material items we use,” Brachya told The Jerusalem
Post on Wednesday.
According to her, an urban lifestyle is the most sustainable kind since it involves the most efficient use of space, allowing for more communal connectivity and sharing.
Leaders in the “sharing economy,” she said, are Air Bnb, Uber and WeWork, as well as car-sharing services like Car- 2Go. Even the Tel-O-Fun bike rental system in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area and the city’s new tool-lending library are examples of this mind-set.
She said she is “very hopeful for the future” since those currently in the 18-35 range have the potential to be more sustainable than previous generations, due to their openness to shared ownership. “For some, ownership is even regarded as a burden,” she said.
The first step one can take to becoming more sustainable is to look closely at one’s assets and lifestyle and then to assess what things, such as vehicles, would be better to share than to own.
Still, further urban sustainability will depend on changes at the municipal level, which might be one of the project’s next subjects.
She said the next stage of research could examine how local authorities should intervene to alter regulations in order to promote a sharing economy and more sustainability.
One example she gave was with public buildings such as schools or even music halls, which are used only for a few hours a day and then closed.
“How do you bring these different spaces into active use, ideally 24 hours a day?”