Story by Tricia Edgar
Kindness and sharing: that does sound like the month of love, doesn’t it? While February will be a memory tomorrow, the sharing economy is here to stay. It’s growing daily, with new web-based tools popping up that are dedicated to sharing.
What can you share? Anything you own can be owned in common or shared with others, and these websites and apps will help you share, make some money and get connected to the sharing economey in your community.
1. Share Space
Have a house? What an asset. While you may share your home with the inlaws, sharing sites like Couchsurfing and Airbnb allow you to open your home to folks from around the world. Couchsurfing is a site that helps you travel to other places and find free accommodation on someone’s couch – or spare bedroom. People from other places can do the same on your couch. You’ll build a network of friends from around the world.
Airbnb is for those who are looking at renting a room or booking a hotel, but want a more local, friendly, and inexpensive option. Rent a castle or book a room in someone’s home, and you’ll have a unique experience, one that helps you get into the local groove.
2. Share Land
Land, anyone? That stuff can be hard to find, especially in the big city, where land for growing food can be scarce and expensive. With a Sharing Backyards site, you can find neighbors who have unused lawn space or people who’d like to garden in your unused space. The grassy swathes of suburb become vegetable gardens where neighborhood connections grow.
3. Share an Office
So many people are freelance professionals or telecommuters who just need a little bit of office space now and then for a meeting. Or perhaps you work best with company, but you’d really prefer not to engineer your own office. Look to Liquidspace or WorkSnug to find your new officemates.
4. Share the Load
Where does all the time go? Oh yes, much of it goes to those little errands. What if there was a super duper errand doer who could do some of those for you? With TaskRabbit, there is. From washing the windows to delivering your favorite peanut butter and pickle sandwiches to your door, TaskRabbit allows you to delegate your totally normal or rather bizarre errands to someone else.
5. Share Four Wheels
Need to get around? Of course you do, but how will you do it? If you’re in the market for a car, you may need to look no further than your neighbor’s garage or the parking lot down the street.
If you’d like to be in the drivers’ seat, car co-ops are the way to go. If you need a car to go long distances or move large objects, but you’re biking or walking the rest of the time, you can get a share in a co-op and have the option to use a car when you need one.
How about that car in your neighbor’s garage? If your neighbor isn’t using his car, he can sign up on Relay Rides, a site that lets you peruse – and rent – your neighbors’ wheels. Or if you have a vehicle sitting unused, your neighbors can rent yours.
If you don’t drive, apps like Sidecar can help you catch a lift by letting connected drivers know that you’d like a ride.
6. Share Two Wheels
Bike shares are as unique as the communities that found them, but if you’re looking for an eco-friendly lift and the distance is a little too long to walk, then you can check into your local bike share. Take a bike, and drop it off at another bike sharing location when you’ve finished your trip. Curious to know what bike shares have sprouted in your neighborhood? Check out the bike sharing world map and add your own community to the list!
7. Share Stuff
Whether it’s a cup of sugar or sixteen extra zucchinis, community sharing is no new thing. What is new is the use of the web to rent out or give away your stuff. Community email lists like Freecycle have been around for a while, and now sharing is going social. Get to know your neighbors’ stuff on Neighborgoods, or use Yerdle to turn your social networks into sharing networks.
If you’d like a more down home solution, head on over to your local library, where you may soon find more than books – seeds, tools, and all sorts of sharable objects are now distributed from community hubs or street corner boxes.
8. Share Clothes
Can I borrow your favorite sweater? Clothing swaps are something you did in high school, but now your closet is stuffed, right? Sometimes there’s a call for a certain type of attire, and if you don’t have it at the ready you certainly don’t need to spend hundreds to buy new clothes. Whether you’ve changed sizes, gotten the big interview, or you’re looking for one-time-only evening wear, it’s gotten much easier to rent clothes that suit the occasion. Sites like Rent the Runway allow you to choose a perfectly suitable outfit for a small percentage of the cost you’d pay to buy an item of clothing.
9. Share Knowledge
Even the internet can’t quite substitute for hands-on interaction sometimes, and that’s what new educational institutions like Trade School are all about. These new educational models might be on a donation or barter system, and they’re all about community members sharing their knowledge with other members of the community – no student loans required. Coursera offers online courses free of charge delivered by university professors eager to share their knowledge on a wide variety of topics.
10. Share The Local Scoop
Hey: do you know something cool about your city? Whether you’re good at seeking out the best local sushi or the most amazing viewpoints, you can rent out your local knowledge as a tour guide. Guide sites like Vayable and Hip Host let you share your insider knowledge, so tourists can feel at home in your city.
The scope of sharing seems endless. With web-based social sharing, getting together has never been easier. Whether it’s borrowing a prom dress or planting a row of lettuce in a neighbor’s garden, there’s a truly neighborly revolution going on in garages, gardens, cars and homes across the country.
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