Still paying for things? Really? Clearly you need a crash course in the awesome new phenomenon that could change the way you ‘buy’ goods and services forever. So what is it exactly? Well, Forbes describes it, rather dryly, as “the practice of people engaging in direct peer-to-peer transactions of goods or services, instead of going through corporate middlemen.” Which is true – but what it means in real life is that people all over the world are collaborating, swapping and sharing everything from a place to stay to fresh vegetables – often without any currency involved!
Two of the most successful and established examples to date are Ebay – where sellers list their goods for sale – and Airbnb – where people offer their homes as vacation rentals – but more and more grassroots organisations and websites are popping up to add to the new sharing economy. Better, go on holidays for free by doing house sitting, or be part of the CouchSurfing community to meet like minded people around the world willing to accommodate fellow travellers for a few nights. (Check out this article I wrote a while ago on AtWorkCafe.com to know more about How to work, travel and meet amazing people at the same time and at the lowest cost).
One of the most useful examples for city-dwellers are the car-sharing initiatives. Companies like Communauto in Montreal, Carpingo in New York City, and GoGet in Sydney are all based on the idea that it’s better for you and the environment to share the use of a car with others in your community, and the idea is working so well that it’s spreading to hundreds of cities across the globe. Taking things one step further, companies like RelayRides allow car owners to rent out their own cars to those who need them.
And it’s not just renting rooms and transport – lesser-known branches of the sharing bandwagon include Kickstarter, a hugely popular crowdfunding site, and ClothingExchange, an Australian mail-in clothing swap site. People are also selling their time and expertise direct to the consumer – you can now go to sites like SkillPages.com to find someone with the skills you need – everything from gardening to photography – and hire them directly – no company taking a cut of their pay. On the less-organised end of the scale – browsing the ‘free’ section of Craigslist could score you stuff you thought you’d have to pay for. Often, people will swap for something you don’t need any more. It’s a win-win!
So, Whether out of financial necessity, curiosity, or a belief that the cold world of consumerism needs a more human face, it’s worth your while to jump on the sharing bandwagon. Not only can you save serious time and money – but you could make some extra cash renting the things you don’t use! Not sure where to get started? Check out the website Mesh.it, which has over 9,000 sharing-based companies and sites that will inspire you rethink your shopping habits.
Photo credit: The4thMonkey.com