How To Share Your Way To A Debt And Waste-Free Holiday

Poor Thanksgiving. Despite its noble focus on gratitude and good food, Thanksgiving has become a mere stepping stone for the massive shopping holiday that lies ahead. Black Friday sales begin on Thursday night, encouraging us to leave our tables and families in order to start the spending frenzy as early as possible.

Ever year the madness becomes more pronounced, with people willing to be trampled or arrested just to claim the last flat screen or smart phone. This year, after all we’ve fought for socially and politically, this behavior seems even more pathetic. So let’s end it. I’m not just suggesting more benign forms of holiday consumption, like Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday. I’m talking about finally emancipating ourselves from the idea that a festive holiday requires purchasing of any kind.

I’m talking about making this the year of the Sharing Economy.

You’ve probably heard about collaborative consumption services like Zipcar or Airbnb. These services demonstrate that sharing isn’t only fun and convenient, it’s a boon for the economy as well. But don’t think that businesses have a corner on the market. Peer-to-peer sharing services facilitate direct sharing between friends, neighbors, and even strangers. Resources are redistributed, reused, and repurposed  for little to no cost, netting massive environmental benefits. With an emphasis on access, not ownership, the sharing economy has the power to end our addiction to stuff without sacrificing quality of life or individuality.

Okay, enough with the soap box. The title of this post promised to show you how sharing can lead to a better, more sustainable holiday, so here you go:

1. Swap and Barter

What if, instead of scouring malls and big box stores for that perfect present, we had access to the closets, garages, and storage spaces of a million friends and neighbors? Swapping or bartering is a simple way to fill a need without a store, or in many cases, money. In-person swaps are common, but they take planning and are limited to the resources in your immediate community. Check out sites like Yerdle,, SwapStyle, thredUP, Zwaggle, BookMooch, BarterQuest, and SwapAce to find thousands of items — from clothes to furniture to video games — offered up for little to nothing.

2. Crowdsource

Throwing a holiday party can be expensive: there’s the food and drinks to buy and prepare, not to mention decorations to hang and games to plan. It’s no wonder people are more stressed around the holidays than any other time of the year! Instead of relying on the local discount store for these supplies, why not tap into the power of your community? Sites like NeighborGoods, Freecycle, Zilok, and Getable can help you find the things you need in a matter of minutes.

Short on time? Use TaskRabbit, DoMyStuff, or AgentAnything to hire a neighbor to run to the store or handle your outdoor lights.

Overwhelmed by the guest list? Sites like EatwithMeGrubwithus, and MealShare can help you organize who’s bringing what, and even help you find new friends to fill your empty seats.

3. Give the Gift of Sharing

If you really want to help your friends and family decrease their carbon footprint, why not give them a nudge in the right direction? Memberships or gift certificates to some of the most popular collaborative consumption services could be the catalyst for a simpler, more sustainable lifestyle that will last all year long. Think about gifting access to sharing services like Zipcar, RelayRides, Airbnb, Parkatmyhouse, FlatClub, Liquid, Zimride, Wheelz, Vayable or SideTour to those who might be willing to try something new in the New Year!

Now matter how you choose to participate in the sharing economy, a few things are guaranteed: you will save money; you will reduce negative impact on the environment; you will make new connections and strengthen existing relationships; and most importantly, you will have a lot more fun than camping out on the sidewalk in front of Walmart.

Related Reading:

Five Reasons Why Voting And Shopping Are Not The Same Thing

Learning Anything From Anyone: An Interview with the CEO of Skillshare

Can We All Live Without Money?

Image via Thinkstock

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Tammy K.
Tammy K.2 years ago

great story!

Gabriella Bertelmann

fantastic, thank you

Joy S.
Joy s.2 years ago

Cut way back, one Figi's family gift to each family, gift cards to grands and greatgrands, monetary gift to local food bank in honor of all friends. Christmas dinner is gift to my husband and all who attend. That is it.

Sheri P.
Sheri P.3 years ago

awesome! i want to check out these resources...thanks!

Pamela C.
Pamela C.3 years ago

I don't have a credit card or a car; the absence of both changes everything.

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola3 years ago

thanks for the info

Biby C.
Biby C.3 years ago

Not just Thanksgiving. Every holiday ranging from a holy Christmas to something so mundane as Valentine's, it's all about getting your money! Frankly, I'm sick and tired of them all.

Janet B.
Janet B.3 years ago

I am not gift giving other than our kids, and grand kids, mothers. Grand kids are done, and two kids. Only gift cards, and the limit! We are not doing names or anything else. No one has money or the mood to do this! It was nice, but got expensive! No more!

Diane Piecara
Diane Piecara3 years ago

I totally agree that retail competition has moved the needle from "over the top" to "wacko."
What they are creating in consumers is nuts. How can a thinking person participate in such craziness? I think it's all about trying to get something for nothing. If you take time to think it through, your rational mind can tell you that everything on this earth comes at a cost to someone or something.

Nils Lunde

Thank you :-)