Depending on how much time you spend researching alternative currencies and economies, you might not be aware that the sharing, swapping, and bartering of goods, services, and experiences are making a comeback in our culture in a big way.
There are many different ways to talk about this phenomenon, which some refer to as “the Sharing Economy,” or “peer-to-peer” resources, but most of these terms fall under the larger umbrella of collaborative consumption.
Never heard of it? No worries. The great thing about collaborative consumption is that you can actively participate in it without knowing that it has an official name. But just so we’re all on the same page, here’s how Rachel Botsman, co-author of “What’s Mine Is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption,” defines the movement: This movement is made up of people all over the world that are fed up with society’s unending quest for more things, and have decided to opt-out of the money and greed-based system.
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When creative people get together and come up with their own systems for sharing, bartering, and renting the things that they want and need, they discover a new way of living. In this new system, access is valued over ownership, experience is valued over material possessions, and “mine” becomes “ours” so everyone’s needs are met without waste.
Collaborative consumption is disrupting outdated modes of business and reinventing not just what we consume but how we consume.
There is A LOT of information about all these different collaborative lifestyles swirling around the interwebs, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed. If you’re ready to explore these sharing alternatives, here are five easy ways to get your feet wet:
Transportation: Who’s got money for gas, let alone costly repairs and car insurance? Cars are expensive, require a place to park them, and even the uber efficient ones still do a number on your carbon footprint. Try these alternatives:
- Car sharing
Zipcar, Streetcar, GoGet
- Peer-to-Peer Car Sharing
Whipcar, Turo, Drivemycar Rentals, Getaround
- Bike sharing
Velib, B-Cycle, Bixi, Santander Cycle, Next bike
Travel: Resorts and hotels offer lots of amenities, but they’re sterile, expensive, and usually only show you the brochure-friendly version of what a destination has to offer. Try these alternatives, and come back with memories instead of souvenirs:
- CouchSurfing – An international non-profit network that connects travelers with locals in over 230 countries and territories around the world.
- AirBnB – Connects people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay, all over the world.
- Neighbor – Provides affordable parking by enabling property-owners to rent out their empty driveways, garages, car parks etc. to drivers needing somewhere to park.
- Tripping – Tripping enables you to connect safely with locals who will introduce you to their towns, their cultures, their lives and their friends.
Media: What’s the best part about a movie? Watching it. What’s the best part about your favorite novel? Reading it. The best part about media isn’t owning it and letting it collect dust on the shelf, it’s the experience. Instead of buying that boxed set or iTunes subscription, try these:
Clothes: Unless you’re especially handy with a sewing machine, it’s likely that keeping your family clothed takes quite a bite out of your monthly budget. Many “cheap” clothing manufacturers use shady practices that take advantage of both people and the planet to churn out their affordable garments. But nothing’s cheaper than free, so try these instead:
- Check ClothingSwap.com and The Swapaholics for clothing swaps near you.
- Then try – Swapstyle, Clothing Exchange, thredUp
(Big thanks to Shareable.net for allowing me to repurpose some of these list items from their massive GenY Guide To Collaborative Consumption!)
This is a very interesting article. There are several programs for sharing that I’d never heard of. I have a blog/website (above) on making decisions and taking actions today to improve the world for our Grandchildren tomorrow. This whole concept of “I don’t need to own stuff, I just need to use once in a while” is right on the mark.
With your permission, I would like to point at your website from mine. Additionally I would like to discuss these ideas in a book I’m writing; the chapter is “More Things Do Not Equal More Happiness”
I love love love this approach! It’s not easy to change our “relationship” to things and make what’s “mine” into what’s “ours”. Society is so driven by consumption and possessions. The idea of: “I want what you have and I want it better and bigger” is so ingrained in our society. We’ve been brainwashed to think that we get what we pay for that the thought of sharing seems almost illogical.
I’ve dreamed my whole life of a world where there is no “currency”. Where we all have what we need and there’s no monstrous discrepancy between social-economic classes. Where there’s actually no need for such categorization.
No human is more important than another in my view and we all “deserve” to have our needs met. We all have lots to contribute to society according to our talents and skills. When I keep that in mind, I realize that no one “deserves” to be paid more than another.
There is tremendous wealth on our mother Earth – plenty for all creatures to be well. Once we are well and feel safe that we will no be deprived of what’s needed, we can start letting go of greed and voluntarily & generously contribute our very best to the community. Once we realize that there is no need for “possessions” we don’t have to focus all of our attention to increasing our riches, we can let go of the obsession to “possess” everything. We can then start sharing, giving and receiving.
We are all part of one big community; what happens to one happens to all. To make other’s lives better is to make our life better! Fundamentally, what’s most important is happiness. We should all know by now that financial wealth does not equate to happiness. We’ve heard plenty of stories, seen plenty of people be miserable regardless of their worldly possessions.
I have found ways to have all I need without using the recognized currency. I trade, swap, exchange, share, reuse, renew, repurpose and give. I volunteer my time and purge my “possessions” often to give to others if they need it. I initially got my inspiration to start living this way by becoming a member of the local Freecycle group. I’ve met great people that are like minded. I’ve found treasure and given to other what became treasure for them.