Eco-Trends around Social Sharing to reduce consumption

Looking for good trend reports on tool sharing, community gardens, and other eco-trends around sharing goods instead of everybody buying their own.

Stuff found so far:

"TRANSUMERISM" from Trendwatching:

For an eco-friendly example of TRANSUMERISM, look no further than car sharing—not the luxury kind, as described earlier on, but the clubs that help people get rid of their cars altogether. Research shows that every carshare vehicle on the road replaces seven to eight owned vehicles, due to people selling their cars or deciding against buying a second or third vehicle (source: Sydney Morning Herald). There are now more than 2,000 carshare organizations and initiatives in 600 cities worldwide. From Zipcar and Streetcar to Greenwheels and  Car City Club. Chicago-based I-GO Car Sharing deserves special mention, as their entire fleet consists of hybrid vehicles.

The  eco-leasing lifestyle doesn’t stop at car sharing: check out the following eco-TRANSUMER services, that also tie in with the aforementioned auction culture:

UK-based Cahooting is a free service for people who wish to find or advertise items for rent. The company’s mission is to help make the world become a more fun and sustainable place, by reducing unnecessary production and pollution. Users simply browse the item categories and locations and inquire about rental price and availability. Sports equipment, clothing, housing, cars, storage: anything and everything can be offered or found for rent. There are no restrictions as to who can advertise items for rent, be it an existing rental company or an individual.

Bike-Sharing and Car-Sharing:

  • Bike-Sharing Programs
  • We've seen quite a pick up in interest in using bikes as a form of daily transportation. First, it was due to rising gas prices. But even as gas prices begin to sink, interest has remained. Why? People are increasingly aware of the environmental impact of driving, as well as the money-saving potential and health perks of bike riding. Bike sharing programs help make riding around easier for someone who doesn't have the space or desire to buy a bike for themselves, buy allowing users to "rent" bikes that can be picked up and dropped off at locations throughout a city. Need to run a quick errand but took the subway to work? No problem. Bike-sharing programs are already big in Paris and other European cities, and are beginning to catch on in the States, too. Washington, D.C.'s bike-sharing program has been a hit, for example, and college campuses across the country are having success with bike sharing, too.

  • Car-Sharing Programs
  • While bike-sharing programs are picking up speed, there are still a lot of people who want or need to drive to get around, but don't want to own the car. If that sounds like you, a car-sharing program is a great solution, and as market demand increases, so is the number or companies offering car-sharing services. Zipcar has long been a leader in this growing market; now Hertz has also rolled out a program called Connect to enter into the popular green alternative.

    "Sharing: It's Not Just Nice, It's Necessary" by EcoSalon:

    Once I started thinking about sharing, I started seeing it everywhere. It’s the central theme to both the bartering and the Urban Foraging movements. And it’s nothing new. After all, there have always been co-ops, swap meets, and carpools, but there also seems to have been an explosion this past year. And the rise of social networking is making it easier than ever to share.

    I think this trend is sparked partly by us coming up against the wall of our economic system’s vast limitations and partly by the realization that we can’t just keep consuming and growing the economy and not consume and grow ourselves right out of existence.

    Maybe we can look at the economic and environmental problems we are in the midst of as an opportunity to redirect selfishness and as an impetus for turning our individualistic society around.

    To that end, here’s a rundown of 15 of the coolest sharing concepts and resources I’ve found to inspire you:

    Recently launched is Shareable, a network of people committed to making life shareable. From the about page: “We cover the people, places, and projects that are bringing a shareable world to life. And share tools and tips to help you make a shareable world real in your life.”

    Coworking: In which a group of people share an office space and all the amenities like printers, tea, tables, chairs, but have their own workspace. Some are permanent and some are drop-in based. Here’s a sort of coworking clearinghouse and The Coworking Institute.

    Software: From Linux to open office, open source electronic resources are created by users for users.

    Yard sharing: Don’t have time to garden but would like the benefits? Share your yard with a neighbor or neighbors. Hyperlocavore and Sharing Backyards are both sites that help people find and link up with others who want to start yard sharing in their communities.

    Childcare: From organized co-op preschools to informal neighborhood babysitting co-ops, people all over are sharing the responsibilities of raising children. Because after all, it does take a village. Here’s a site to help you get started.

    Stores and Farms: Here’s a directory of cooperative stores and buying clubs. CSAs have been around for a while and they are a form of sharing. Many of the earlier ones required members to work some hours on the farm. Then there’s cowpooling, in which you buy a whole cow with your neighbor. It’s green because the whole animal gets used, not just the prime cuts you find in the grocery store.

    Cohousing: Cohousing is often like other housing, where everyone has their own private space, but the residents all consciously choose to share public space, meals, childcare, activities, or whatever they decide. This cohousing website is for people who are in cohousing or want to be in cohousing to help them share information and resources.

    Cars: Having a car when you need it and not having it when you don’t is the beauty of car sharing. There are many types of car shares from informal, free and community- or neighborhood-based to businesses like Zipcar and City Car Share. Here’s a page with listings in each city.

    Bikes: Popular in Europe, the idea is catching on here with varying levels of success. Shocker! Sometimes the bikes get stolen. The Bike Sharing Blog compiles information on bike sharing from everywhere.

    Travel: Like to travel, but lack the money for a hotel? Or have the money, but would rather see the “real country”? Try

    Seeds: Preserving biological diversity and making friends are two benefits of seed swapping. You could easily save seeds among friends and neighbors. There’s an informal neighborhood seed swap that sometimes sets up at my local farmers’ market.

    Homesharing: Different from cohousing, this concept is for seniors to connect with one another and share houses, resources and companies. Kind of like roommates for the older set.

    Skill Sharing: Brooklyn Skill Share is a network of people sharing knowledge. Another knowledge sharing organization, Bike Kitchens are places where people can go to learn to fix their own bikes and share tools.

    Dinner: Frugal Foodies are loosely organized, rotating groups of people that cook dinner together once a week.

    Borrowing: Neighborrow facilitates borrowing of tools, books and other household items among neighbors.

    We do this in an informal way, since we share a lawnmower with our friends. We got the lawn with the house and didn’t want it and we got the lawnmower for free from a relative. Why buy a lawnmower for a lawn we don’t want and why make our friends do the same? So we share (at least until we can transform it all into an edible landscape).

    We also share a car in our household among two and we belong to a grocery co-op that requires us to work 2 1/2 hours per month.

    What kind of sharing are you involved in? What’s out there in your neck of the woods that I missed? Please share your information in the comments below.


    In tough economic times, it can make sense for consumers to be both transumers—eschewing the burdens of ownership in favour of shorter-term privileges—and sellsumers, making the most of what assets they do own. Aiming to facilitate both is NeighborGoods, a brand-new site that helps consumers borrow, lend, rent, sell and buy stuff in their community.

    Focusing for now on Southern California, NeighborGoods is an online community that lets consumers save and earn money by sharing with their neighbours and friends any of the assorted tools, ladders and other things they use only occasionally. Users of the site, which just launched into beta, can decide how they want to share their stuff. They can allow their friends to borrow an item for free while charging others a rental fee, for example, or they can decide to make the item available only to friends. NeighborGoods helps facilitate transactions with a reservation calendar, automated reminders, wish-list alerts and private messaging. It also tracks and shares the transaction history of each member. Neighbours can rate each other and even flag another member's account if something goes wrong. Borrowing and lending items on NeighborGoods is free of charge. Members who want to earn money by renting or selling items must have a Pro account—currently free, but ultimately by paid subscription.

    Besides the obvious financial advantages for those involved, of course, sharing tools and equipment—much like cars, bikes and boats—has distinct eco-benefits as well, minimizing the redundant things so many households typically buy. Looks like another sharing-enabled win-win-win—for borrowers, owners and the planet—and one to be emulated in communities around the world! (Related: Neighbourhood approach to renewable energy.)

    And of course, tool sharing and tool libraries:

    The Roots of Tool Sharing:

    culinary implement library: cake pan collections

    The Chicago Tribune runs an AP wire story on the new-found social trend that it's OK to share expensive, single use objects like wood chippers in your neighborhood - or cake pans.

    At the library in Galesburg, Ill., a dozen cake pans shaped like hearts, dinosaurs or footballs sit behind the counter, available for checkout. Karen Marple, the children's librarian, keeps track of the pans, which she buys on sale or at yard sales for library cardholders to share.

    "They don't want to spend so much money on a cake pan that they're going to use one time," Marple said. "It's free. It's economics."

    "Neighbors share, trade in leaner times."

    Elsewhere around the country, dozens of municipalities and nonprofit groups have community tool sheds, where citizens can borrow hand or power tools for projects.

    Individualistic attitudes worked fine until the economic downturn, Ferrell said. Now, he said, "the stigma you might have witnessed for reusing things has been reimagined as a rediscovery of American values."

    "Sharing only means that you have to buy less and I have to buy less," Ferrell said. "Sharing also knits communities together. Sharing is good for social life."

    Posted via email from Pete's posterous

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