Saturday, December 15, 2012

Learning to Become A Sharing Society

Learning to become a sharing society can have a huge positive impact on the environment, resources and both personal finances and the global economy.

Small business entrepreneurs are opening new business ventures to meet the rising demand for used and rental items. Smaller items from CD’s, DVD’s, comic books, clothing and books have been available in both specialized and general used stores for some time now. Second hand furniture and other household items can be found in thrift and second hand stores – many of those raise funds for local charities. In fact you can likely find anything from decorations to dishes in used stores today.

Renting items can be a very frugal, cost effective way to get things done. Common big-ticket items today are tool rental and equipment rental – including things like tile cutters, wood floor sanders, drywall mud equipment, lawn and garden equipment from grass thatching and aerating machinery to garden rototillers and post-hole diggers, and larger items like a backhoe, trailer or bobcat. Items like these are typically needed only for one project in a lifetime. Small businesses that obtain contracts for particular jobs do not have to stock and store the equipment for these occasional duties – they can rent them instead. 

Families are now looking to purchase or rent used equipment that are used only for a brief time period – such as cribs, changing tables, toys, baby strollers, children’s bicycles, etc. We are also seeing several savvy businesses starting up to address demand for car and bike rental and share programs, which are very popular with tourists. 

Sharing programs can reach across the community or involve a small circle of family or friends. Consider items like books, magazines, children’s cloths, DVD’s, etc. It is easy to call up people in your address book and set up a meeting where everyone brings their used magazines (for instance) and people can then exchange them. I would suggest that we include those who don’t have that particular item, just because they don’t have one to exchange, doesn’t mean they should be declined the opportunity to obtain that item. You could arrange to do a different item for each monthly meeting, and invite the attendees to let others know of the event so that more and more people come and share a wide array of items. 

Having fewer items mean that we do not have to manage the stewardship of those items - maintaining and storing them and later, disposing of them. Because we require less storage space we can live in smaller homes, or use the additional space in our homes for other uses – like starting a small business, a hobby room, a gathering place for a group, or renting the rooms out to someone else who needs a place to stay. In fact shared housing is becoming increasingly popular. There are a lot of elderly folks out there who may not be able to maintain a house on their own but don’t like the idea of getting an apartment and are still independent enough to be on their own. Refurbishing a basement or one side of the house for these income opportunities are yet another way to live more frugally and sustainably.

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