Everyone is sharing — from food to bikes to tools. You can even share your pets! It saves you money; it cuts down on clutter; it creates community. So, what is real sharing? It’s not driven by profit. It’s about sharing resources, skills, knowledge and decision-making in an equitable and caring manner. It’s community-focused and offers social connection. It reduces waste and uses fewer resources. And it should be fun!
Here is a roundup of some of the main Sharing Economy players to get you started. Or start one of your own today.
COMMUNITY EXCHANGE GROUPS
Community exchange is trading goods and services, both locally and remotely. It’s a complementary trading network that operates without money. In a Gift Economy, services or goods are given without an agreement as to a suitable payment or trade to be made in return. A Sharing Economy (also known as collaborative consumption or peer-to-peer-based sharing) highlights the ability of individuals to rent or borrow goods rather than buy and own them. The Barter Economy is a cashless economic system in which services and goods are traded at negotiated rates.
“The distinctions between these become blurred; however, the concepts are not mutually exclusive, and people often participate in all three simultaneously without ever really thinking about it as such.” WhatIs.com —Margaret Rouse https://www.communityexchange.net.au/
Our own LETS: LETS stands for Local Energy Trading System and it promotes the non-currency trading of local products and services. LETS is a system of trading goods and services without cash. It creates local employment by making use of the community’s true wealth — the skills and energy of its people. BrisLETS puts on regular events, including a monthly trading day at the Peace Hall in Albion (102 MacDonald Rd). www.brislets.com.au
Freecycle: The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 5,323 groups with 9,339,299 members around the world, and next door to you. It’s a grassroots and entirely non-profit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns and neighbourhoods. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.
Buy Nothing groups on Facebook: Similar to Freecycle, Buy Nothing is an online gift economy started in the US and now in 20 countries worldwide. It aims to reduce waste, reuse goods and connect with local community. Post anything you’d like to give away, lend or share amongst your neighbours and ask for anything you’d like to receive for free or borrow. https://buynothingproject.org/find-a-group/#Australia
Car Next Door: This one does cost. But sharing and renting your neighbour’s car is cheaper than owning one and it does keep cars off the road so I’m adding it here.
Join the community for free and pay only when you need a car. Borrow by the hour or by the day, with fuel and insurance included. Your neighbour’s car can be up to 50% cheaper than a traditional rental, plus you only pay for the time you need it. https://www.carnextdoor.com.au/
Little Free Library Australia: A Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book” free book exchange. These come in many shapes and sizes, but the most common version is a small wooden box of books. Anyone may take a book or bring a book to share. Through Little Free Libraries, millions of books are exchanged each year, profoundly increasing access to books for readers of all ages and backgrounds. https://www.facebook.com/LittleFreeLibrariesAustralia https://littlefreelibrary.org
Seed Libraries: The first Seed Library has opened in Port Macquarie – in a library! Check it out then start your own. http://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2014-04-11/lending-seeds-like-books/5382542
Seed Savers Network: This was established in Australia in 1986 with the aim to be a non-profit seed-exchange program, and to educate about and save open-pollinated (non-hybrid) seeds and the genetic diversity of plant varieties. There are various ways you can be involved with Seed Savers Foundation, whether online, in your garden or in one of our local seed groups termed a Local Seed Network. There are nearly 100 of them in Australia. http://seedsavers.net/ https://www.facebook.com/seedsaversnetwork
Pets: Can’t or won’t own a pet? Then borrow an adorable pooch for the day, and then give it back to its owners, avoiding the costs, restrictions and ethics of pet-owning. Here’s a few pooch-sharing places to adopt a pet for a day. Or become a foster carer with the RSPCA. More than 7,000 animals are cared for by dedicated foster carers each year.
FOOD SHARING AND SWAPS
Food swaps are events where people get together at an agreed location, date and time to share and swap locally grown surplus backyard produce through gifting or exchange. Community fridges work on a similar basis to Grow Free carts, asking folks to “leave what you can, take what you need”. There may be special considerations around safety and management, particularly for items that require refrigeration. The City of Charles Sturt has a handy guide to setting up a food swap: How to Set Up and Run a Food Swap: Guide to establishing and running a food swap produced by the City of Charles Sturt and based on the experience of the West Croydon swap: mcp.charlessturt.sa.gov.au/emags/fruit&veg/files/assets/basic-html/toc.html
GrowFree say: “By using food as a medium, people are connecting with their community and with this planet we live on. Just the simple act of growing our own food and giving it freely to someone else, without need for reciprocation or acknowledgment, can not only be a revolutionary act, but also one that heals.” I agree. http://www.growfree.org.au/ https://www.facebook.com/groups/growfree
RipeNearMe – It’s really simple. Put in your postcode to find fruit and veges ripe near you. List any excess and free stuff for others. I found rosemary and sage for free near me! Yum. www.ripenear.me
Little Free Pantry: Inspired by the Little Free Libraries, the Little Free Pantry is a fairly simple concept: a small wooden box with a clear door sits in a public location and is filled with food items, available for anyone in the community who needs them. www.littlefreepantry.org
Food Is Free Project Australia is non-profit organisation with the brilliant idea that food should be free. The Victorian city of Ballarat is playing a key role in the food-share movement with two Food is Free laneways bursting with free produce. Start your own with this free how-to: http://foodisfreeproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/How-to-Start-a-Food-is-Free-Project.pdf https://www.facebook.com/foodisfreebrisbane
Brisbane Local Food: A network for those who grow, buy, make, sell and share local food. Because these things are improbably, yet reverberatingly, important. http://brisbanelocalfood.ning.com
Crop Swap: Welcome to the growing community of Crop Swap Queensland! This is where we share state-specific tips, event details and industry news to help your garden grow. Post your trials, tribulations and queries, or simply follow along for some inspiration. Now that your garden is on its way to being bountiful, join your local group to swap your excess produce, seeds or plants, or let us know if we can help you start your own. www.facebook.com/groups/CropSwapBrisbane https://www.facebook.com/CropSwapQueensland
Your local Community Garden: Sure, you have to do a bit of work … but you also get to take home the produce. And gardening is really fun with friends. Brisbane City Council lists all the Brisbane Community Gardens here: https://www.brisbane.qld.gov.au/environment-waste/be-clean-green-brisbane/community-groups/community-gardens-city-farms/find-your-local-community-garden
SHARE SHEDS, REPAIR CAFES AND FIXIT CLINICS
A Share Shed is a Brisbane-based Library of Things where members can borrow all sorts of useful items for $80 a year. Whether you want to use a lawn-mower, a bread-maker, a tennis racquet or a disco ball, we want to share our catalogue with you. Located in Salisbury near Food Connect, they are growing and growing. Join up at https://www.shareshed.org.au/
Brisbane Tool Library: Now located at the State Library of Queensland, the Brisbane Tool Library has been another Brisbane success story since starting in 2017. Pay just $75 for not having to store all those rarely used tools and help build the sharing economy in Brisbane. https://brisbanetoollibrary.org/
Repair Cafés are free meeting places and they’re all about repairing things (together). At a Repair Café, you’ll find tools and materials to help you make any repairs you need — on clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery, appliances, toys, et cetera. You’ll also find expert volunteers, with repair skills in all kinds of fields.
A great example is the Bower Repair Café (NSW). Established in Sydney in 2014, it has two Repair Cafes as well as operating a mobile service. The cafes also have themes, such as timber, small electricals and bike repair. Have a look at http://bower.org.au/repaircafe https://www.facebook.com/Repair-Caf%C3%A9-Australia-989205054463442
Men’s Sheds: Not all Men’s Sheds are the same – if you looked inside you might see a number of men making furniture, perhaps restoring bicycles for a local school, making mynah-bird traps, fixing lawn-mowers or making a cubby house for a charity to raffle. You might also see a few young men working with the older men, obtaining new skills and learning something about life from the men with whom they work. You might see local elders making traditional weapons or designing arts and crafts. You will see tea-bags, coffee cups and a comfortable area where men can sit and talk. You will probably also see an area where men can learn to cook for themselves or how to contact their families by computer. https://mensshed.org/
Imagine all the people / sharing all the world (John Lennon)
1. This Little Free Library is located at 2693 Cherry Street in the Park Hill neighborhood of Denver, CO on April 25, 2013. Tiny little libraries are popping up in yards around the metro area. https://www.denverpost.com/2013/04/29/tiny-libraries-in-front-yards-across-colorado-inspire-love-of-books/ 2. https://www.shareshed.org.au/
3. my graphic for : https://www.facebook.com/groups/yerongacommunitygardens/?ref=direct
6. http://ballaratfamilyguide.com.au/food-is-free-ballarat/ 7. https://brisbanetoollibrary.org/
8. (Photo JD Ryan, 1080 KRLD)