I think it’s basically impossible for us to maintain the standards of living of developed nations while simultaneously reducing consumption at almost any level, let alone a sustainable one. We are at such a state that the ballooning of our resource use and thus impacts on the environment that a severe reduction would be required in combination with a serious lifestyle change and paradigm shift. It would be completely unrealistic and unjust to expect a reduction in consumption for most developing nations when their impacts are barely comparable to that of developed nations (with some exceptions of course).
At first I was skeptical of collaborative consumption—after all collective action is incredibly difficult to achieve. However, these systems that Rachel Botsman suggests such as redistribution markets (trading existing goods so as to not let products go to waste, which people already do on a small scale), collaborative live styles (sharing wealth, skills, and time—this one seems a bit more difficult to achieve—especially welath), and product-service system (receiving benefits of a product without having to own it) which would significantly help reduce e-waste and unnecessary consumption.
I like that it incorporates behaviors and systems we already have in place and motivations that appeal to us (i.e. less costs) and harnesses our instinct to share which is albeit and altruistic assumption. It reminds me of what Cohen says in “Why Not Socialism?”—we just need a way to harness the power of altruism just like how capitalism harnesses the power of self-interest. Which is still really, really difficult, but this approach seems to be a step in the right direction. A system like this that encourages social networking, self-organiation, and sharing can only be good. We are becoming more and more disconnected from the idea of a physical community because of the disconnect that technology creates that allows us to find other means of social interaction and access to information. Collaborative consumption would not only decrease the need for excessive technology use and consumption, it would help us see and utilize humanity’s interdependence which is necessary to realize a sustainable future.