You may have heard the phrase “the sharing economy” and not really known what it meant. It’s actually a rather old idea made new again.
Since mankind first started living in groups, the idea of sharing resources has been practiced, with farmers borrowing ploughs and oxen from their neighbors, or people exchanging goods, or simply giving items away when they’re not needed.
And now, it’s come into vogue again with the rise of the sustainability movement, although when you hear it these days, it’s often in regards to moneymaking enterprises like Airbnb, where you rent out your house or a room to travelers, or Uber, where your personal vehicle becomes a cab for hire.
One site I found, www.thepeoplewhoshare.com, has this lengthy explanation of what it’s all about: “The Sharing Economy encompasses the following aspects: swapping, exchanging, collective purchasing, collaborative consumption, shared ownership, shared value, cooperatives, co-creation, recycling, upcycling, redistribution, trading used goods, renting, borrowing, lending, subscription-based models, peer-to-peer, collaborative economy, circular economy, pay-as-you-use economy, wikinomics, peer-to-peer lending, micro financing, micro-entrepreneurship, social media, the Mesh, social enterprise, futurology, crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, cradle-to-cradle, open source, open data, user generated content (UGC).”
Personally, I like the sharing economy in its purest form, where people share resources without any money involved. It’s like asking your neighbors if you can use their hedge trimmer for the afternoon. Then they might borrow a wheelbarrow from you sometime. And so it goes. It’s a relationship that works to everyone’s benefit.
Thanks to the magic of the Internet, we are now able to swap, barter, borrow and obtain items not just from those in our immediate neighborhood, but potentially anywhere.
One great resource that sometimes gets overlooked is Nextdoor, which is sort of an online community bulletin board. It’s a little bit like Craigslist, but on a neighborhood level, making it easy to swap, get or give away items to people near you. To check it out or start your own group, go to Nextdoor.com/about_us.
Another wonderful resource for getting items you need, or giving away what you don’t, is Freecycle.com. I’ve written about Freecycle before and I’ve used it for years. Like Nextdoor, there are local administrators for each group who can handle questions and concerns.
Craiglist is also a place for giving and receiving, of course, but it’s bigger and more impersonal than some of the more locally focused groups. And there are many choices besides Freecycle and Nextdoor — in fact, it’s remarkable how many are out there.
You might look at Facebook, for instance, to see if there are local Facebook groups that do this. Other sharing groups organize themselves through Yahoo.
I’ve also found numerous giveaway websites that are said to operate anywhere in the world. (I can’t strictly recommend them, since I haven’t used them myself, but you can have a look if you like.) Among them are Freegle, ReUseIt, FreelyWheely and others.
There is also a site, TrashNothing.com, which acts as a clearinghouse for other giveaway websites, giving you access to many of them all at once.
So give a little and get a little — you may be able to give and get more than you realized was possible, while saving money and preserving the world’s resources.
Do you have questions or tips about sustainable living around the Central Coast? Send them to Aromas resident Kathryn McKenzie at firstname.lastname@example.org.