The sharing economy has become a global phenomenon that increasingly transforms how we move, travel, work, and consume. Given that consumption practices such as swapping, gifting, reselling, co-using, lending or renting (summed up as peer-to-peer sharing) can facilitate an extended or more intensive use of products, sustainability was early linked to the idea of access instead of ownership. From an ecological perspective, a more equitable and sustainable distribution of resources is feasible, through reducing the costs of accessing products and services and save scarce resources. Apart from having positive environmental effects, peer-to-peer sharing is expected to foster new forms of collaboration, solidarity and social bonding among individuals and to lead the way towards a collaborative economy that is characterized by a greater sense of community, decentralization and solidarity. In recent years, however, the sharing economy has also increasingly provoked considerable criticisms. This paper provides an analysis of the sustainability potentials of peer-to-peer sharing in the domains of accommodation and mobility and contrasts these potentials with its actual impacts in Germany. The authors show that in order to put peer-to-peer sharing on a sustainable development path, particular changes of consumption habits, organizational innovations and political interventions are needed.
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