Sharing is the New Green

People in the Portland metro area are quite resourceful in finding ways to share. Everywhere you look it is possible to see places where people are bartering, borrowing, renting, trading and swapping to get the things we need.

Many business models worldwide are shifting away from selling folks a product we individually own. Businesses like ZipCar, Pandora, and Netfix who embrace this model recognize that ownership can pose unnecessary burden for their customers. When you own something, you have to insure the thing, store the thing, and maintain it. All that work and many of our things spend more time just laying idle waiting for us to use them. Instead of providing products for people to own, these businesses create a service that provides access to objects right at the time we need them. 

 Libraries are longstanding institutions of sharing

Libraries are longstanding institutions of sharing

Some more traditional businesses have been helping customers share for ever. They may include hardware shops that offer tool rental, furniture rental shops and party rental places for durables at events. Government even provides sharing opportunity by providing local libraries.

Most examples of sharing are down-right home spun: Plant/seed swaps, Nursery pot exchanges, rummage sales, asking your neighbor for their hedger, and sharing a magazine subscription with your sister.

Not surprisingly, Master Recyclers have been at the heart of organizing many local cooperative efforts. KB Mercer (Class 46) is starting up ArtSmart a sharing house for the performing arts, Robert Bowles (Class 41) helped start up the NE Lending Tool Library, Leah Britton (Class 42), Liz Cole (Class 44), and Honey O’Conner (Class 47) are all working are starting up a tool library in SW Portland and Forest Grove. Lane’ Bigsby (Class 39) started Something Borrowed for vintage wedding and events rental.

These activities are not new ways for people to save money, conserve natural resources and enjoy community contact. But new research indicates that Portlanders would be open to participate in more of these activities if they only knew where to go.

What is your favorite example of sharing in your community? Telling people about these community gems is a great way to help people to reduce waste, connect in the community and get what they need.