10 Ways to Join the Sharing Economy

Image: person holding large bowl of apples. Title: 10 Ways to Join the Sharing Economy

What if you could get what you need for free and make some really great friends in the process? That’s the concept behind what even the mainstream media has started to call “the sharing economy”—where people come together to pool time, talent, and treasure so everyone involved can get what they need. All around the world, people are sharing their extra time and stuff, saving resourcees and building community in the process.

Want to join in the sharing fun? Try one or more of these great ideas. ...

1. Hold a Permablitz

The brainchild of permaculturist Dan Palmer, permablitzes have become all the rage in Melbourne, Australia. During these oldfashioned “barn-raising” type events, strangers come together to turn someone’s yard into an edible garden—in one day.

To get their yard permablitzed, people join the Melbourne Permablitz Collective and agree to work on at least two other blitzes. Volunteer permaculturists will then design a garden plan specifically for their yard, which follows permaculture guidelines in that it mimics a natural ecosystem, requiring no artificial inputs. The whole group helps plan and promote the blitz, which as a rule includes permaculture design and gardening workshops, and the host provides food and drinks.

“Permablitzes are a lot of fun for both hosts and volunteers,” says Permablitz Melbourne’s Samantha Allemann. “Hosts receive free labor from keen volunteer blitzers, which allows for a lot of manual work to get done in a short space of time. The volunteer blitzers have the opportunity to learn new skills related to permaculture and sustainable living, eat delicious food, get some exercise, and meet new people.”

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2. Make Your Home a Pop-up Restaurant

Make a little extra cash by turning your home into a temporary restaurant. Gusta.com allows amateur and pro chefs in 98 cities worldwide to post home-cooked meals they’re planning to prepare on the site; then, diners looking for a unique dining experience sign up for the meal. Each chef sets his/her own price—usually comparable to the average restaurant meal—and serves the food at home.

Green Business Network® director Alix Davidson regularly posts dinners—her specialty is vegetarian Indian food—on Feastly.com, which operates similar to Gusta and is still in beta-testing. She’s also dined at other Feastly homes, partaking in Korean bibimbap and “the best Thai food I’ve ever eaten.”

“I’m energized by Feastly—I get a reason to advance my cooking skills and a little extra cash, as well as the chance to eat some amazing food and meet interesting people,” she says.

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3. Share a Yard

Have a yard but no time to garden? Visit hyperlocavore.ning.com or wepatch.org to loan out a section of your yard to a gardenless gardener, who will use it to grow produce to share between the two of you. It also works the other way around, so you can also use the sites if you’re the one looking for a little patch of earth to tend.

4. Bond with Booklovers

Hold a book swap with fellow bibliophiles—your local library might be willing to assist with making it a community event. You can also swap with others online at paperbackswap.com or bookmooch.com.

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5. Need a Ride?

Getaround.com is a growing network of people willing to rent out their cars while they’re traveling or extra vehicles that are sitting idle in a garage. GetAround provides GPS tracking of your vehicle, insurance, regular inspections and maintenance, and post-rental cleaning. Currently available in San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, Austin, and San Diego, GetAround plans to expand to other cities in the near future.

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6. Get Free Fruit

People who grow fruit in their yards often find that their trees runneth over. Find people willing to share their fruity bounty at neighborhoodfruit.com.

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7. Honey Do Share

If you’re not afraid of bees and have a safe little corner of your yard where a hive could thrive, you can offer it up to local beekeepers in exchange for free local honey. Look up your area “beekeeper’s guild.”

8. Share Your Time

Local currency systems like Time Dollars (greenamerica.org/go/timedollars) allow you to formally trade your time and expertise with others in your community. People might trade Spanish lessons for the opportunity to learn to knit, for example, or babysitting hours for personal training sessions.

But if you don’t have a formal local currency, don’t despair. You can still trade your talent for someone else’s at ourgoods.org, barterquest.com, brightneighbor.com, ShareSomeSugar.com, and streetbank.com.

9. A Home Away from Home

Planning to travel? Find homeowners willing to share or loan out their house or apartment in more than 33,000 cities in 192 countries for cheaper than you can get a hotel room at Airbnb.com. If you aren’t traveling but could use some extra cash, you can apply at Airbnb.com to rent out your home as an instant hotel or bed and breakfast.

If you’re willing to work on your trip, GrowFood.org, HelpX.org, and WWOOF.org can help you find short-term work on an organic farm worldwide in exchange for room and board.

10. Share Your Knowledge

Start a “free school” in your community, where members teach regular, free classes on their knowledge and skill areas, from ballroom dancing to astronomy to gardening. Find a step-by-step guide on how to start one at shareable.net/blog/how-to-start-a-free-school.

From Green American Magazine Issue