Another National Self Storage Day is here!
On the last Saturday in July (the peak of the summer moving season, when many people move to new homes and college students prepare to start a new term — primetime for self storage), we celebrate this massive (and growing) industry that generates nearly $40 billion in annual revenue.
There are many reasons to celebrate self storage:
- Self storage remains in high demand! An estimated 11% of households in the U.S. rent a storage unit of some kind, which comes out to around 13.5 million families.
- The industry fuels small business owners, with more than half of all storage facilities owned by small operators.
- It’s both pandemic- and recession-proof — delinquency on business loans for self storage facilities was far lower than for other types of real estate from 2010 to 2020.
- It can be a passive income stream for people who have unused space in their homes.
But this National Self Storage Day, we don’t want to celebrate the self storage industry as it exists right now. We want to celebrate everything this industry could be. The future of storage is bright because Neighbor is disrupting it to allow people and businesses to capitalize on the huge demand — creating a passive income for users while making the industry more sustainable.
The Traditional Self Storage Industry Is Unsustainable
Earlier this year, we investigated the environmental impact of the traditional self storage industry, and what we found was alarming.
Traditional self storage facilities — sprawling complexes of storage units you’ve probably seen in suburbs and next to highways — are made of two main ingredients: concrete and steel.
Cement production alone generates 2.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year — about 8% of the world’s annual total. Cement is just one ingredient used in concrete manufacturing, which emits 400 pounds of CO2 per cubic yard produced.
And then there’s steel. Steel production creates between 7 and 8% of global carbon emissions each year — 1.83 tons of carbon is produced for every ton of steel manufactured.
Buildings, especially commercial ones like self storage facilities, tend to fly under the radar when consumers think about sustainability. So many of us focus on emissions from vehicles, ocean pollution, and overconsumption of livestock — all important problems to tackle when working for a more sustainable future. But buildings account for nearly 40% of all greenhouse gas emissions, something climate change experts are beginning to sound the alarm about.
In an interview about his book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, Bill Gates said, “I actually thought of all the toughest climate problems that livestock was going to be the toughest… I’d say steel and cement are now the two that I’m still scratching my head.”
This National Self Storage Day, Focus on Sustainability
Knowing what we know about the negative impact of the traditional self storage industry, this year’s National Self Storage Day may feel less than celebratory. But there’s still plenty of reason for hope.
Just as technology is changing almost every industry, it’s changing self storage. And one of the major ways technology is disrupting this industry is by making it more sustainable.
Neighbor uses technology to connect people on a peer-to-peer storage marketplace. When one user needs storage, they can use Neighbor to connect with someone else in their community who has available, unused space. It’s safe, convenient, and affordable — but most importantly, it’s more sustainable that the traditional self storage industry.
That’s because Neighbor recycles space in buildings that already exist. This helps eliminate some of the need for new commercial builds — and all the harmful concrete and steel they use.
In the U.S. alone, there are 34 million homes with an empty bedroom. What if all that space was repurposed for storage?
The traditional self storage industry builds an average of 60,000 square feet of new storage space each year. If 60,000 square feet of space were added to Neighbor instead, it would eliminate 780,000 pounds of CO2 emissions from building a new storage facility. If all of the 34 million spare bedrooms in the U.S. were listed on Neighbor, it would eliminate more than 88 billion pounds of CO2 from building new self storage. And all the while, it would be creating passive income for millions of families.
“Think of us as a big recycling company — that’s essentially what we are,” says Neighbor co-founder and CEO Joseph Woodbury. “Except, instead of recycling plastic bottles and cardboard boxes, we’re recycling buildings. In other words, we’re taking the space that we have already built all over the country, and we’re putting it to good use to prevent future building.”
Woodbury — and Neighbor’s other leaders, partners, and investors — see this platform as just the first step toward a world where sharing makes everything we do more sustainable.
“We’re connecting people who are literally neighbors, and that’s our long term vision for the business,” Woodbury says. “We don’t just want to stop with storage. We think the most powerful asset on our platform is that we have neighbors in every city in every state in the country, opening up their homes to each other. And we want to create more ways for them to share more things with their neighbors.”
How to Celebrate National Self Storage Day in 2022
It’s with sharing in mind that we’re thinking about how to celebrate National Self Storage Day this year. You can put sharing and sustainability at the center of your celebrations this year with one of these 3 ideas.
Share More Than Space with Your Neighbors
Neighbor isn’t the only platform that’s promoting sustainability by helping neighbors share their resources with one another. If you have spare belongings — from tools to sporting equipment to your car — there are peer-to-peer apps and marketplaces that will help you connect with others in your community who need to rent or borrow things. A little research can help you find the right platform for the resources you have to give.
Another option is to join the Buy Nothing Project, part of a growing “gift economy” in which members believe their communities already contain everything they need, and they can thrive (and live more sustainably) by sharing things freely with one another. These groups often operate on Facebook and other social media platforms, where members post items they want to give away, or requests for things they need.
Rent Out Your Spare Space on Neighbor
If you have unused space in your home, list it on Neighbor! Not only does this provide sustainable self storage to a neighbor who needs it, but it helps build connections with other members of your community. Neighbor can also be a great source of supplemental income for hosts — another great benefit on top of the environmental impact and community-building!
Ditch Your Dusty Self Storage Unit
The most positive and impactful thing you can do to celebrate National Self Storage Day is to give up your traditional self storage unit — and all the environmental harm it causes.
You can store your belongings more sustainably using Neighbor, or downsize so that you don’t need the extra storage — and in the process, recycle items you no longer need by selling or giving them to members of your community who do need them.
Neighbor Has You Covered for All Your Self Storage Needs
Whether you need to store personal belongings, vehicles, moving boxes, or something else entirely, you can find the storage you need from Neighbor.