Getting the people back on local networks as a zero waste strategy

Rebuilding local communities is central to the zero waste approach. Local networking solutions exist, but none of them has invented that new local paradigm to become the platform of the location-based economy.

The zero waste approach seeks to eradicate the heavy-polluting processes and habits around the consumption of goods in general. Relying on local supplies and production is key to minimize the local communities’ reliance on external industrial systems. Developing tools to favor communication within local communities is key to helping the zero waste movement reach its goal. No local communication vehicle = no local shares, no local trades.

A few websites/apps already exist to fulfill that need. Most of them are apps for neighbors, enabling members of a neighborhood to interact through online networks. While they all bring some value to this seeding sector, they’re all replicas of Facebook in their own ways, and they all fail to invent a dominant geocentric paradigm to social networking. Other location-based social networks cater to social events. There’s a lot of apps in that arena, all being really creative to become the next game breaker for public venues. But when it’s last call and venues close for the night, so does those apps that only enable local networking during ephemeral gatherings.

In my life experience, I’ve often been drawn to the issue of zero waste and local communication tools. Moving from country to country teaches you that you don’t need that much “stuff” to live. It teaches you it is way cleaner to consume locally than to import all of your favorite products. It makes you realize that you don’t need to personally own something to use it, that it is clever if most home appliances belong and remain within the community (and not just in your garage or kitchen). But to integrate local processes, I need a tool to get in touch with the local community I live in. From experience, living in a neighborhood doesn’t mean that you feel like a member of a community. I rarely befriend my neighbors, not that I don’t want to, but geographical vicinity doesn’t mean social vicinity, and that’s particularly true if you are a shy foreigner in the country. There needs to be a medium for locals to be connected and share information on a practical level, otherwise sustainable local communities will remain an utopia forever.

Empowering local communities with a dedicated communication vehicle is key to unleash the advent of a global location-based economy. Since no such tool dominates the market, and since the global economy crushed local economies as a whole, everything has to be built from the start. That means the first versions of the product need to provide a very simple yet friendly service to get the people back on local networks.