the sharing economy

save money. get more mileage out of your stuff. buy less. waste less. connect with others.

how? rent, swap, share and lend.

have you heard of collaborative consumption? people have always been sharing and collaborating; think of libraries and carpooling, and, more recently, community gardens and bike sharing.

but technological innovation and the proximity of urban life have taken sharing to the next level—welcome to the sharing economy.

instead of buying brand new things that cost a lot and sit idle for most of their life cycle, people are figuring out how to get more mileage out of their stuff by sharing. the idea is to cut out the middlemen, like expensive rental companies or hotels, and to buy less stuff. social sharing websites are making it possible, linking people’s needs to each other and group-regulating through ratings. has a great list of social sharing sites of all varieties.

you know about movie rentals, but do you that you can now rent textbooks, art and fashion (clothing and accessories)? you can also swap used books, baby goods and toys, DVDs and games. check out Apple’s recycling program and get a gift card for returning old products. Neighbours can lend and borrow goods like tools and yard equipment, as well as skills and errands. and entire sites are devoted to general rentals, swaps and free stuff. Even culture can be shared: you can find free courses, movies, audio books, ebooks, language lessons and textbooks at Open Culture.

to get around town, you may have heard of car sharing systems like Zipcar, but travel sharing has expanded to ride sharing, taxi sharing, and even parking spot sharing/rental. Peer-to-Peer car rental has emerged; you can now rent out your own car by the hour or week. people are also sharing spaces, including storage spaces, offices and workshops, and apartments and couches to crash on while traveling. even peer-to-peer banking exists, where money can be borrowed and lent. and some sites, like Shareable, even help people figure out how to set up their own sharing systems.

we all know we have more than enough stuff to go around. new tools can now help us be savvy and get the most out of our stuff by connecting to each other.

spring is a great season to learn the art of collaborative consumption and social sharing, and to tap into the benefits of the sharing economy.

*originally published in Bamboo Magazine*


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