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Ways to Share That Benefit You and Others

One Saturday a friend who lives on Nob Hill in S.F.  drove a zipcar over to visit me in Sausalito. He was eager to tell me about his trip to Istanbul, paid for by renting out his spare bedroom. Earlier that morning, via a freecycle posting, a stranger picked up some clay pots I’d set out by my garage so he could make a deck garden.

Our apparently different actions are, in fact, part of a trend that Roos Rogers and Rachel Botsman dub collaborative consumption in their book, What’s Mine is Yours.

Feeling pinched for money?  Hate waste? Want to get to know more of your neighbors?

These are just some of the reasons that might motivate you to discover fresh methods to save and to share that can also enrich your life – with others.

From bartering to exchanging, fixing, giving away, renting or more efficiently using what you have, this book is the most complete (and lively) resource I’ve found.  You’ll not only read about the better-known businesses and organizations that are tapping into “collaborative consumption” like zipcar and Meetup but many lesser-known groups and methods that you might join or reinvent to adapt to your situation or interest.

They write, “The collaboration at the heart of Collaborative Consumption may be local and face-to-face, or it may use the Internet to connect, combine, form groups, and find something or someone to create “many to many” peer-to-peer interactions.  Simply put, people are sharing again with their community – be it an office, a neighborhood, an apartment building, a school, or a Facebook network. But the sharing and collaboration are happening in ways and at a scale never before possible, creating a culture and economy of What’s Mine is Yours.”

Collaborative Consumption appears in three “systems” suggest the authors, product service systems, redistribution markets and collaborative lifestyles.

The underlying principles that enable them are idling capacity, critical mass, belief in the commons and trust between strangers.

In keeping with a book on collaboration the authors seemingly productively co-wrote this book.  You can read about the factors in our relatively recent history that caused Americans to shop as a hobby, often beyond our mean or needs and throw away or store our extra stuff  (Americans average more than four credit cards per person while Europeans get by with 0.23 per person)– or you can jump to the many interesting characters, services, methods and stories in the rise of our collaborative consumption.

Some of my favorite stories are about business people who made dramatic changes on how they operated their business such as Ray Anderson who had a “conversion experience” after reading my friend Paul Hawken’s book, The Ecology of Commerce, and transformed his firm, “the world’s largest commercial carpet company” into “the first fully sustainable industrial enterprise.”  There are many fascinating back stories on how company founders backed into starting their business after personally seeing a need to reduce waste or save money – or others desire to share.

As someone who has had a long interest in collaboration I was delighted to learn how many more clever methods people are inventing to get along well on less, often through the use of collaborative technology.  For example, I’ve been a longtime fan and user of freecyle, Zipcar, Netflix and Zilok (and was building up the nerve to try CouchSurfing or Airbnb) yet I’d not heard of many of the others including Snapgoods, SwapTree, SmartBike, TechShop, HearPlanet, iLetYou, SolarCity, UsedCardboardBoxes or OurGoods.

Perhaps like me, you’ll finish this book convinced that sharing in all its forms is a major trend – and not just for the frugal or the greenies. Further you’ll have specific ideas about why and how to share, exchange, rent, swap or ensure that the things you no longer want get into the hands of those who do.

After you’ve read this book visit Shareable and see more stories to inspire you about how we are becoming more inventive about sharing the more we connect with each other about it.

Categories: behavior, Book, Collective Intelligence and tagged , , , , .
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  1. Posted September 19, 2010 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Melinda Blau’s thoughtful, story-filled article on how the Internet is changing us and we are changing it, including references to What’s Mine is Yours, is well worth your reading as a companion to this post:

  2. Melinda
    Posted October 16, 2010 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    I recall dad talking about sharing large equipment in the farming community he was growing up in, 80 years ago. The really major items weren’t purchased by each farmer. Instead, each farmer owned one major piece and they rotated the use of what each of them had. Along with that rotation came the labor of the community of farmers, helping each other with their various heavy-duty seasonal tasks. They also shared their meals together, potluck style, during those heavy labor, communal work cycles. What a great way to share the burden of financial investment and reap the rewards of neighborliness and friendship in the process!

    Today, we use social media in much the same way. My virtual community supports one another through various minor and major upheavals and downfalls, made known by a simple status update. Knowledge and experience, as well as goods and services, are given the thumbs up or down through similar updates, not unlike the advice of the knowledgeable older sister or brother, or next door neighbor of years gone by. Even every day sharing, like your mentioned clay pots, jointly housed pets, providing a ride to a doctor appointment or trading friends’ used books become simple exchanges that feel good.

  3. Posted October 16, 2010 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Apt examples Melinda and some are very familiar – thank you

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