6 Unique Sharing Services to Cut Your Consumption
Some life lessons learned in kindergarten stick: don't eat glue, don't run with scissors, friends don't hit one another. For some of us, the importance of sharing was a hard one to learn — what kid wants to give away half of their cookie? Fortunately, we've warmed up to sharing, and learned to harness the power of lending, borrowing, giving, and renting to care for the environment. We've collected some of the greenest of what the sharing economy has to offer — from rental chickens to leftover Chinese food, here's a small sampling of ways you can depend on the kindness of strangers to reduce your consumption and waste:
1. To eat: Whether you have too much or too little, when it comes to sharing food, you have options. If you're not afraid to get your hands dirty, start or join a community garden. If you have lots of leftovers or made too much for dinner, services like Eat With Me and LeftoverSwap let you share your bounty with others, instead of tossing it in the trash.
2. To farm: Interested in learning more about what urban homesteading has to offer your pantry? Give it a test run. A surprising number of groups and individuals throughout the nation rent out egg-laying chickens along with coops, bedding, and feed, at surprisingly affordable prices. Many of these groups hope to help decrease the number of abandoned chickens flooding animal shelters, which some attribute to the ever-increasing popularity of urban farming. If it doesn't work out, simply send the rented chickens back, guilt-free. Do a quick search for chicken rentals in your state, and get farming.
3. To get around: Car sharing is nothing new — from Getaround to RelayRides, there are lots of easy options that make it easy to abstain from car ownership. But bike-share programs are also cropping up all over the U.S., making green transportation easy and accessible for all. Have a bike you seldom use? Put it to work for our environment with peer-to-peer sharing organizations like Splinster.
4. For household goods: In this day and age, borrowing a cup of sugar isn't as simple as knocking on a neighbor's door. But that doesn't mean you should forgo borrowing the Jones' stepladder in favor of buying your own and adding to the dusty pile of seldom-used goods in the garage. Websites like NeighborGoods and The Freecycle Network allow users to post and search for items in their community — everything from video games to bike helmets. Give it a shot, and help keep reusable items out of landfills.
5. For outdoor adventures: We know that ski resorts and campsites aren't always as eco-friendly as we'd like them to be. Fortunately, you can take a few more steps to green your trip. Websites like GearCommons and Backcountry Ride let you connect with others who have gear and rides to rent or share.
6. For the kids: Healthy kids grow like weeds, which means clothes and toys are outgrown quicker than parents can replace them. Instead of tossing out things that have fallen out of favor, search for toy libraries and co-ops in your area, or check out websites like thredUP and reCrib, which resell gently-used clothing and kids' gear online.
— Image via iStockphoto/yaruta