How you’re cutting carbon emissions by renting out your stuff

Of the 1500+ Black Friday shoppers interviewed by McKinsey in the UK and US last year, over half said that they planned to buy in consumer electronics. This year, as people were digging through the seasonal bargains, we went digging through our own data to try to quantify the environmental impact of peer-to-peer electronics rentals. A week on from the Black Friday weekend, we’re sharing what we’ve found.

More shared = less manufactured

To first understand the impact of borrowing items on carbon emissions, it’s useful to understand that the majority of emissions in the entire lifecycle of consumer electronics products come from the manufacturing process.

Research from Arizona State University shows that, of all the energy needed to produce and operate a typical laptop computer throughout its life, 70% is used in the manufacturing process. In fact, 77% of Apple’s carbon footprint comes from its manufacturing processes. Recycling your old electronics when you upgrade is useful, but it doesn’t prevent the emissions might not be as effective as you’d hope. Avoiding purchases altogether has a far greater impact.

in Film & Photography rentals alone, Fat Llama users have reduced CO2 emissions by an estimated 20,414 tonnes in 2018 by renting instead of buying.

Through renting instead of buying, Fat Llama users are not only avoiding expensive purchase costs, but they’re also reducing their carbon footprint. With the help of a green think tank called Concito, we’ve calculated that in Film & Photography rentals alone, Fat Llama users have reduced CO2 emissions by an estimated 20,414 tonnes in 2018 by renting instead of buying. That’s an emissions saving that’s equal to the cost of providing electricity to 3,060 homes for one year.

Carbon emissions saved per item

The following projections are based on rental data from 2018:

 

Data methodology: The estimated savings come from avoided manufacturing emissions; they are based on an assumption that borrowers would otherwise purchase. The calculations were based on emissions data for consumer electronics production, provided by environmental think tank, Concito. As averages, the ‘per-item’ estimates don’t account for location-specific demand.

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