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Don’t Buy: Lend, Swap, Share, Borrow!

Don’t Buy: Lend, Swap, Share, Borrow!

Do you really need that specialized power tool forever, or just for the day? Should you invest in a full set of camping equipment, even if you’re not sure your family will enjoy it? Isn’t there someone out there who wants to trade those size 8 ice skates for a size 9?

If you ever find yourself pondering questions like this, welcome to collaborative consumption–a concept of organized sharing and swapping. Although peer-to-peer sharing may have been a tenet in communities of lore, our modern this-is-mine culture has taken us away from what seems like such practical common sense. But times, they are a-changin’.

Privately-held clothing and book swaps have become a very practical social pastime among freinds, but now the premise is spreading into more official capacities. Sites and services are popping up to facilitate the simple concept: You can get what you need without buying it.  The arrangements are manifested in a number of ways. SnapGoods, for instance, helps to connect people with stuff to lend with people who wish to borrow; while Neighborhood Fruit lets people swap garden bounty or distribute fruit harvested from public trees. Some places arrange rentals, some create swaps, while others create communities of sharers.

It’s a brilliant model of sustainability–no new stuff to clutter the landfill, yay!–but according to an article in Time magazine, there is a beneficial emotional aspect as well. Not only in the community-building, but in that the lending element requires trust, and being trusted feels good. Paul Zak, founding director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University, has shown that people get a spike of the pleasant neurotransmitter oxytocin when they’re entrusted with another person’s goods. “We’re gregariously social creatures, and one way we can exhibit that sociability is by sharing our things,” he says.

With a little research, you can find pretty much anything, there are even sites that allow you to borrow cars. But perhaps my favorite are those that are charity-inspired, such as Swap for Good.  This site helps people  set up clothing swaps and collect donations from participants  (who are saving money by swapping not shopping) to give to domestic-violence shelters and other organizations.

Collaborative consumption is at once so simple, yet so revolutionary. It replaces “beg, steal and borrow” with “lend, share and swap.” It’s green, the sense of community feels great, and that little rush of oxytocin doesn’t hurt either.

For more:
8 Ways to Inspire Re-Use in Your Community

How to Reorganize Your Closet, the Eco Way
How to Trade Your Stuff

Read more: Community Service, Conscious Consumer, Crafts & Hobbies, Home, Mental Wellness, Reduce, Recycle & Reuse, Smart Shopping, ,

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.

84 comments

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10:28PM PDT on Apr 22, 2013

Good Idea I will check out your links Thanks for the info.

12:27PM PST on Feb 7, 2013

Thanks for the article.

6:27PM PST on Nov 24, 2012

Good ideas, thank you.

6:26PM PST on Nov 24, 2012

Good ideas, thank you.

6:09AM PDT on Oct 1, 2011

Thank you

5:45AM PDT on Apr 14, 2011

Thanks for the article.

7:16PM PST on Jan 18, 2011

i love yard sales, estate sales, thrift stores..not only am i recycling..but people often comment on the uniqueness of some items.

3:41PM PST on Jan 9, 2011

Hear hear, thanks!

6:01PM PST on Jan 4, 2011

Thank you for shaing. Would love to see everyone do this.

9:54AM PST on Jan 4, 2011

Isn't it fascinating that after centuries of moving away from an
economic structure where goods and services were swapped to
a strictly monetary system, we are now coming full circle, and exchanging, borrowing and lending again?
Borrowing and lending, participating in group garage sales, being there for each other...these all help cement neighborhood relationships, and helps those who live by themselves, and are often elderly, feel that they are part of a community, a modern day village of sorts.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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