Sustainable Development in the Sharing Economy: Taking Uber and Airbnb as Examples

After the Sharing Economy” by transmediale is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Introduction: The Sharing Economy: Uber and Airbnb

The sharing economy has emerged as a viable business model amidst the acceleration of globalization, with social media playing a pivotal role in enabling its growth (John, 2016). Sharing businesses operate under the premise of sustainability; successful examples of such businesses include Uber and Airbnb. Both platforms promote sustainability by decreasing the demand for new resources and stimulate the economy by maximizing resource utilization. Nonetheless, they possess the ability to sustain socioeconomic disparities while evading the regulatory system’s framework of scrutiny. By utilizing the sharing economy model and the notion of sustainable development, this article investigates the economic, socio-environmental, and operational practices of two platforms, Uber and Airbnb. This analysis delves into the functions and beneficial effects of these platforms, while also examining the challenges that are present.

The Leader in the Sharing Economy

Uber and Airbnb are prominent examples of the sharing economy’s most rapidly expanding entities. Through the sharing economy, individuals can acquire resources at a fraction of the cost charged by the providers they have previously utilized or have access to (Midgett, et al, 2018). The sharing economy represents a recent advancement in market operations.

Sharing Economy and Environmental Protection: How Uber Achieves Traffic Optimization and Sustainable Development

Stockholm Environment Institute. (2021). What is demand-responsive transport / DRT? (ENG) [Video]. In YouTube.

Uber serves as an additional illustrative instance of the business model encompassed within the sharing economy. Car sharing, an innovative mode of transportation, operates on the principle of providing individuals with convenient travel services without requiring them to own a vehicle. This is accomplished through the substitution of private vehicles (Fan et al., 2019). It implements a series of strategies to optimise the system of urban mobility by using algorithms to go for vehicle location and order matching, dispatching and managing idle vehicles to reduce ineffective empty driving (Jiao et al., 2021).“Demand-Responsive Transport” is a concept that Uber has implemented to facilitate the scheduling of transportation services in accordance with the immediate requirements of passengers. Additionally, Uber has utilized technological advancements to mitigate air pollution and traffic congestion (Fan et al., 2019).

Furthermore, this initiative generates additional parking spaces within the municipality. This integration and optimization of transport resources not only mitigates carbon emissions and safeguards the environment, but also advances societal progress toward low-carbon and environmentally conscious practices and aligns with Uber’s sharing economy sustainable development framework.

The Impact of Uber on Urban Carbon Footprint

Despite some theoretical research indicating that car sharing could reduce the demand for private vehicles, this is the case. However, according to a study by Henao and Marshall on the impact of internet rides on vehicle miles traveled, collected data from the Denver area revealed that shared mobility services like Lyft and Uber increased the total number of miles traveled by 83.5% compared to what would have occurred if internet rides had not been utilized. This indicates that the presence of Uber in the community may increase carbon emissions (Henao & Marshall, 2018).

Airbnb Promotes the Long-term Development of the Local Economy and its Positive Impact on Real Estate

Over a ten-year period, Kung and colleagues examined Airbnb listings and applications for residency permits in fifteen different cities throughout the nation. They found that while the number of Airbnb listings increased by 1% annually, the number of permit applications increased by 0.769%.This clearly demonstrates that Airbnb is significantly contributing to the local real estate market and thereby augmenting the local tax base. In addition to stimulating the local economy, the escalating demand for short-term housing is causing a substantial rise in property values and housing altogether (Chandler, 2022).

Airbnb’s Success is Inevitable under the Sharing Economy Model

Grossi, C. (2021). Is airbnb actually CHEAPER than renting [Video]. In YouTube.

In comparison to conventional long-term rental apartments, the Airbnb rental experience is regarded with considerable satisfaction by tenants. One benefit is the provision of completely furnished apartments, which typically feature individual living areas, kitchens, and bathrooms. These additional areas afford the tenant a sense of seclusion. In addition to Wi-Fi and work necessities including chairs and workstations, the rooms boast these amenities. This is to enhance the living environment for the tenant by making it more pleasant and functional. Furthermore, Airbnb provides Wi-Fi, an essential amenity for contemporary travelers, enabling guests to conveniently communicate with loved ones, engage in social activities, and retrieve online information. In conclusion, Airbnb rentals are frequently more affordable than unfurnished apartments, enabling budget-conscious tenants to benefit from luxurious lodgings without incurring the financial burden associated with an expensive flat.

In conclusion, the presence of Airbnb affords tenants lodging options that are comfortable, functional, and reasonably priced. This trend exemplifies the contemporary tenant’s desire for autonomy and a customized lodging experience.

The Dual Advantages of the Sharing Economy: How Airbnb Promotes Environmental Sustainability and Socio-Economic Growth

Airbnb’s distinctive economic model fosters local socioeconomic sustainability while also generating additional revenue streams to support environmentally conscious initiatives. With regard to environmental preservation, the “homestay” category of accommodations on Airbnb facilitates a more ecologically sustainable and resource-efficient operation compared to conventional hotels. This includes reduced greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption (Midgett, et al, 2018). Airbnb demonstrates the implementation of sustainability principles within the sharing economy through resource optimization, as an illustration, by converting unoccupied residences into short-term rentals. The optimization and globalized sharing of resources are advantageous not only socioculturally but also for individuals and communities (Dolnicar, 2021).

AirBnB” by Tydence is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Airbnb and the Issue of Rising Local Housing Costs

Conversely, some opponents of the home sharing economy contend that the Airbnb platform has contributed to a rise in the cost of housing for local inhabitants. The implementation of the short-term rental strategy has directly contributed to the decline in long-term rentals, thereby constraining the availability of such housing. This trend, according to its detractors, worsens socioeconomic disparities (Franco & Santos, 2021). While Airbnb has contributed to the advancement of sustainable practices in the tourism industry, the influence of socioeconomic house price increases on sustainability remains uncertain.

How Uber and Airbnb Balance Economic Benefits and Social Responsibility

Although Uber and Airbnb may contribute to environmental impacts and socioeconomic inequality, they operate within the sharing economy. Uber, on the other hand, is dedicated to facilitating individuals’ travel decisions and promoting low-carbon transportation, which is primarily for socioeconomic benefit (Fan et al., 2019). Airbnb enhances the local tourism economy through the provision of cost-effective lodging options for travellers (Guttentag, 2015).

In summary, the potential positive impacts and opportunities presented by Uber and Airbnb outweigh any potential negative ones. Policies and regulations are implemented to control the trajectory of these platforms in order to preserve positive developments and mitigate negative effects.


The sharing economy is experiencing significant growth within the framework of globalization. Two prominent platforms that effectively leverage and optimize resources—Uber and Airbnb—provide consumers with convenience and economic advantages while also contributing to the economic progress of local communities. With regard to sustainable development, they reduce environmental pollution and optimize the use of resources. In addition, they generate economic revenue and employment opportunities, thereby bolstering local economic development. However, potential social issues associated with the sharing economy’s sustainability, including traffic impacts and economic inequality, must be thoroughly examined. This requires the regulation and participation of both society and the government in order to advance sustainable socioeconomic development.


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Dolnicar, S. (2021, April 6). The evolution of Airbnb’s business model. The University of Queensland.

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Sustainable Development in the Sharing Economy: Taking Uber and Airbnb as Examples © 2023 by KEXIN TANG is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0