So, what does all of this mean for sustainability? Fewer belongings and more sharing may hold promise for resource-efficiency — but it all depends on tight management. One counter-trend could be unnecessary maintenance to ensure hygiene: more washing of clothes, sheets and towels, and so on. Fleura Bardhi, a research professor in consumer behaviour at Northeastern University, Massachusetts, is interested in the evolution of “alternative relationships to the material world”. After all, new nomadism isn’t simply about being on the move: it’s about a world in which ‘your own place’ and ‘your own stuff’ no longer make such a difference — to your productivity, your wellbeing, and even your identity.
“Our relationships to place and people are becoming more ‘liquid’, they’re changing constantly”, says Bardhi. “It means we also have to adapt and change. The most successful are those who can adapt very quickly.”