Graduation Year

2015

Graduation Month

May

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

School or Department

Environmental Studies

Major

Environmental Studies

Faculty Mentor

Joshua Slotnick

Faculty Mentor Department

Environmental Studies

Keywords

food waste, collaborative consumption, sharing economy, food exchange

Subject Categories

Environmental Studies

Abstract

Rachel Botsman coined the term “collaborative consumption” to describe an economic model based on sharing, swapping, trading, or renting products and services, and enabling access rather than ownership1. Also referred to as the sharing economy, the mesh economy, or the peer-to-peer economy, collaborative consumption models offer a more efficient use of unused, or underutilized resources. Whereas previously peer-to-peer exchanges were only practical within small networks of friends, family, and neighbors, the Internet and mobile technology have allowed us to share almost anything at any time. While there are countless examples of community exchange platforms, and more springing up every day, there is not an efficient widespread platform for the sharing of food.

In his book, American Wasteland, author Jonathan Bloom estimates that nearly one-half of all food produced in the United States is discarded, wasting valuable natural resources and costing billions2. This report will analyze existing models of peer-to-peer exchange in order to guide the creation of Crop Swap Missoula, a small-scale online food exchange based in Missoula, Montana. The exchange will allow for the sale, donation, or trade of surplus food items among users. I will consider the potential financial, environmental and social benefits of the project and attempt to anticipate problems that may arise. According to a team of researchers at collaborativeconsumption.com, platforms often fail due to insufficient supply and/or demand, a lack of product focus, an unclear value scheme, not enough funding, or regulatory issues. I will discuss these issues as they apply to Crop Swap, and explore potential solutions.

1 Botsman, Rachel. "The Sharing Economy Lacks A Shared Definition." Collaborative Consumption. November 22, 2013. Accessed April 30, 2015.

2 Bloom, Jonathan. American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do about It). Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2010.

Honors College Research Project

Yes

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© Copyright 2015 Cathryn Raan