Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

William Ascher

Reader 2

Bowman Cutter

Reader 3

Marc Los Huertos

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Rights Information

© 2017 Chloe L An


This senior thesis in environmental analysis explores the promise of sustainability of the sharing economy, its shortcomings from this positive potential, and possible policy solutions to help it reach its fullest, positive potential. At its core, the sharing economy enables shared access to goods and services that would otherwise sit in idle or underutilized capacity – popular platforms such as Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, and craigslist all fall within the sharing economy. By enabling affordable and convenient access to goods that would otherwise sit idle, the sharing economy encourages maximal use of a good that already exists rather than seeking out the production of new goods to meet demand. Unfortunately, as it grows, the sharing economy moves away from this key environmental promise because of two central challenges: first, a shift away from maximal resource use, the central pillar of its promise of sustainability, and second, negative side effects that arise from a lack of regulation of the decentralized economy. Therefore, appropriate public policy is needed to both regulate the decentralized economy to minimize negative behaviors and to encourage the positive behaviors of the sharing economy.