With 2013 here, New Year’s resolutions are being scribbled down by the dozens. Maybe your resolutions include a commitment to healthier eating or more family time, kicking a bad habit or volunteering at a local nonprofit. Whatever your pleasure, the beginning of a new year is a fresh start. It feels like pure potential; like anything is possible.
What better way to kick off the year than to commit to more sharing? Whether cars, meals, office space, childcare, time, skills, or your home, sharing, in its many forms, is an excellent way to build community, consume fewer resources, and support the sharing movement by putting your actions where your mind is.
To stir up some ideas and inspiration, we asked several leaders of sharing communities around the world to offer their thoughts on the best way to kick off a shareable 2013. Here’s what they came up with.
Benita Matofska - Founder of The People Who Share
Start acquiring only pre-loved goods. Do you really need new stuff that often falls apart within weeks? Why not swap or exchange the stuff you have but don't need to get the things that you do? And if you really need to buy, buy pre-loved (share the lifecycle of the product). It's much cheaper and you get so much more value for your hard-earned cash. I've been following this for almost two years now, and in two years I've saved over £35,000 doing just this. Can't say fairer than that! My favorite find? A 1975 remote control Doctor Who K9 robot I just bought for my son's 8th birthday. He says it's his “best present ever” and it cost less than half of a new remote control toy and didn't cost the earth either.
The new year is a time for decluttering your life. Go through your stuff and take the one-year challenge. If you haven't used something that you own in the last year, give it away or loan it on Yerdle.
Janelle Orsi - Sharing Lawyer
Set a bold example for sharing. Get bold about what you share and who you share with. Tell your neighbors you are open to lending your car, if anyone ever needs one. Tell your employer that you'd rather have your hours cut than to see one of your co-workers laid off. Offer to lend your favorite travel guitar to strangers you connect with online (such as through Yerdle). Let a friend of a friend of a friend stay on your couch for a week. Invite random strangers to stop by your house anytime to borrow a bicycle pump. These are bold and powerful steps, but they exemplify what we all need to do to survive and thrive in very challenging times.
Antonin Leonard - Founder of Ouishare
I would say focus on people. Try to bring value to those people who already like you. Show them that you care about them. People are tired with online stuff, so find a way to make them interact in a meaningful way offline. And find young people who are very knowledgeable about social media and give them the keys of the house. That would be my advice.
Michel Bauwens - Founder of the P2P Foundation
The big priority is to create sustainable and ethical livelihoods that allow people to live from their productive passions, in pursuits that do not harm the planet. It is very important to do this not only with the classic ways of proprietary platforms but also through new forms of ethical market entities that are sharing- and commons-friendly and respect the autonomy of the contributors. I see the creation of contributory value systems that generate a flow of wealth to all citizens to be one of the big priorities. We have to step away from unsustainable profit-maximizing models to profit-making systems that are in the service of social goals.
Darren Sharp - Editor of Shareable Australia
My #1 tip to start the new year is to organize a street party so you can get to know your neighbors and start building a sharing community at the local level. Think about how to share surplus fruit and vegetables or perhaps create a tool, toy, or book lending library on your street. Apart from being able to have access to healthy produce like lemons etc. all year round (because most people produce more than they consume) and tools like power drills that are rarely used, you'll also strengthen social bonds, improve street security, and probably have fun along the way too.
Daniel Bartel - Founder of KoKonsum
People can organize KoKonsum Meetups in their local towns to connect the p2p communities and invite new people to join this exciting movement. Collecting moments, not things, is also very important to keep in mind to start a great 2013 – the year of sharing!
Try one sharing service over the holiday season (like my parents made me try brussel sprouts). The opportunities are more and more niche and provide unintended benefits. I recently used Dogvacay.com. Not only did I make a few bucks to spend on my own pooch, but we had a great time caring for a dog that would have otherwise spent time in a kennel. Plus we made a new friend in the dog's owner and introduced her to the virtues of similar p2p democratized platforms.
That said, without getting back to the pedantics... crash diets do not work. I would rather challenge the founders to solve one problem in the space, than to challenge the consumers to use the services. If the consumers need a commitment device, or a constant challenge, it means the founders (myself included) are not doing a good enough job of making the value proposition compelling enough.
Neal Gorenflo - Publisher of Shareable
If you want to change your life and community dramatically for the better, start a sharing group where everyone is committed to helping each contribute to the common good. The Henry James quote comes to mind, "True happiness, we are told, consists in getting out of one's self, but the point is not only to get out – you must stay out; and to stay out you must have some absorbing errand."
Form a group where everyone helps each other with that thing they can't live without doing, the absorbing errand. And keep at it for the long haul; you won't see the big benefits until at least year. You'll be surprised by how alive you'll become, how much you can do, and how easy it will be to accomplish the seemingly impossible for your community.