Commodification means transforming essential goods, services, ideas, and even people’s time into objects that must be bought and sold in a market. By treating public services like housing or transit as commodities, private profit and property rights often supersede human rights and the economic stability of families and neighborhoods. Privileging private ownership and the pursuit of profits without government guidelines or regulations for the provision of services undermines the power of local governments to build equity and the power of community members to build economic stability.
To decommodify means to ease or eliminate profit-making pressures on public services and restore the primary purpose of these public services – to serve the public who pay for them. It also means to restore public control over their management. Decommodified solutions seek to end exploitative practices, remove the pressure to create profit from public goods, promote public ownership, and demand more from businesses that profit from our urban environments while also creating local production and consumption loops. Local Green New Deals should prioritize putting people before private profit so everyone can benefit economically, not just a privileged few.