By 2050, 3bn more people will be joining us on our planet of finite resources, and it doesn’t take a maths genius to realize that we need to share to survive. Business has an important role in creating this sustainable future and the businesses that will be at the forefront are those who are building a sharing economy.

A sharing economy is one based on access rather than ownership, people rather than product, where the true cost of business is reflected on the balance sheet; where production, distribution and consumption are based on sharing.

Currently, it’s estimated that the sharing economy in the UK is worth £22.4bn, 1.3% of GDP – – and that’s predicted to rise to 15% within the next five years. Sharing is big business and with the estimated global value of the sharing economy at £330bn, this is an emerging market that has the power to sustain people and planet.

For example, collaborative consumption ventures such as a peer-to-peer marketplace for people to book holidays in other people’s homes has just rented its five millionth room. Elsewhere, the car sharing market is booming. In the UK alone, there are estimated to be 100,000 car sharers and the market is predicted to be worth £7.8bn by 2015. When you consider that the average car commuter drives 12 miles a day, cutting that by half through car sharing saves around 400kg of carbon dioxide over one year, or about 170 litres of petrol.

Peer-to-peer rental is also on the rise, already generating £22.5 billion globally. In the UK, businesses such as and offer alternative ways to consume. These services offer people the chance to do more with less, to access the goods they need, when they need them, to use the stuff you have but don’t need, to get the things you do. It’s a Multi-coloured Swap Shop for a new generation and it offers consumers a way to live a better, smarter life. Smarter for the planet too when you consider that currently 1.5m tonnes of clothes are sent to landfill each year in the UK.

And with charity shops such as Oxfam reporting an increase in sales earlier this year of 11%, it’s clear that this smarter way of living is catching on. It taps into the ‘I want it and I want it now mentality’ but at its heart it sells a different message – ‘you don’t need to own, you just need to access’. Consider what you need and share with others. But for sharing to work, trust mechanisms need to be in place and collaborative business models rely on upfront rules that set boundaries and protect all parties. The key to success in Peer-to-Peer is mutual respect, openness and transparency – it’s about putting the humanity and the heart into business.

The Sharing Economy is about putting sharing and mutuality at the heart of everything we do. The People Who Share was born to address these issues, to make it easy to share and to bring a new era of sharing to the world via an aggregator of Collaborative Consumption, a one stop destination This new marketplace is the home for the Sharing Economy. From investors to producers, distributors to service providers, the Sharing Economy needs good businesses to trailblaze the future.

The sharing economy is an opportunity to ‘do’, an opportunity to build a sustainable future and build it now.

So take a look at your business and ask yourself some questions:

Are your relationships based on mutuality, collaboration and shared value?
How could you use collaborative purchasing to save resources?
Do you implement sharing schemes such as car sharing for your employees?
What underused resources do you have that could be used by your local community?

The answers reveal whether you are a business of the future. The sharing economy is the future, the question is, are you in?

Benita Matofska is the founder and chief sharer of The People Who Share, dedicated to building a sustainable sharing economy. Global Sharing Day will take place on November 14.

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