Ditch outright ownership in favour of borrowing or loaning goods and services, simultaneously helping your pocket and the environment.
Built on a premise of peer-to-peer exchanges of personal items or services, the sharing economy is a platform that provides access to said items or services (sometimes for a set period of time) meaning users avoid having to procure them outright. The online landscape is bursting with portals of so-called collaborative consumption where people can list items that they wish to rent out or borrow such as bicycles, cars, apartments and even parking spaces.
Services offering accommodation, ridesharing and book swapping are gathering momentum in the online world and more are developing all the time. Below are a few portals allowing you to get in on the sharing spirit:
Swapping, loaning, helping:
- The app Yerdle is like an online marketplace of sorts but without cash. Instead, the idea is to trade your unwanted goods against credits which you can then use to 'purchase' other secondhand goods that other members of the community are looking to trade. The team behind the app has a pretty clear and direct mission of reducing the number of new items people purchase by 25 percent. Download the app for iPhone here.
- Bookswapping via BookMooch. Kind of like an online library, book swapping allows you to loan your books out temporarily or browse the site for books that others are willing to loan.
- Freecycling (basically swapping or giving away your unwanted goods) has been around in some form or other for eons and the advent of technology has helped freecyclers around the world in keeping their storage closets empty. The Freecycle Network has a worldwide database of more than eight million freecyclers. Simply search on their website for groups in your area and start swapping.
- Upgraded your mobile phone this year but your old one still works? On the hunt for a decent used camera and want to offer guitar-playing tips? The website TradeYa allows users to do a good ol' fashioned barter deal to trade not just secondhand goods but also services and skills.
- Need an extra pair of hands around the house or want to help out a neighbour? TaskRabbit (currently operating in the US and the UK) lets you look for volunteers in your local area that can assist with household tasks.
Share a ride:
- Carpooling or ridesharing via RideFinder, BlaBlaCar or RideshareOnline. Car pooling cuts the number of cars on the road which has countless benefits for the environment (as well as cutting down traffic) and you can even save some cash by asking participants to pitch in for gas. The platform also lets you offer a spot in your car, find a carpool to join, seek bikeriding buddies as well or find fellow passengers to share bus or rail journeys.
Find or offer accommodation:
- Airbnb allows people to rent out or offer rooms and apartments for short term stays and has operations in hundreds of countries and is constantly expanding while CouchSurfing sees people provide a couch, bed a place to sleep free of charge to traveller could be an option for the more budget-conscious holidaymaker.
- Compare and share also lists a range of accommodation options as well as mealsharing and carpooling possibilities.
Share a meal:
- Mealsharing is designed to get people out of their comfort zones and binding with new people over food. People can 'sign up' to a dinner party, pay their share of the food and go and enjoy a meal with a group of potential new friends.
- Platforms like Leftoverswap and Foodsharing allow people to share leftover food, meals or groceries with others while Cropmobster (US only) sees excess crops that otherwise be tossed being donated to charity.
- Grab your laptop and join like-minded freelancers, contracters and solopreneurs in one of the many coworking spaces popping up around the world. Copass is a global coworking network and connects users to over 500 coworking spaces worldwide.
Find out more
OuiShare is a global network of sharers and collaborators that create and develop ideas and projects within the realm of collaborative consumption.