Lend, Borrow & Sharing Services: Changing our Relationship with Stuff

Goodlifer: Lend, Borrow & Sharing Services

Humans like to own things, and for long we have equaled possessions with success and satisfaction. But does stuff really make us happier? As someone who just moved a 1.5 bedroom apartment and cursed for weeks at how much stuff I had managed to cram in there, I say no. Quite the opposite. The average drill gets used between 3 to 20 minutes during its lifetime. So, why does every household need to own one?

What if there was a way many people could easily share the same piece of equipment, saving both money and the planet? Well, it turns out there are a lot of these kinds of systems in place already.

Don't have a backyard? Borrow one!

Don’t have a backyard? Borrow one!

NeighborGoods lets you search and post requests by zipcode. The site just went national, and a recent search in my zipcode found a folding hand-truck, a backyard, a backpacking pack, a tabletop propane gas grill, a men’s mountain bike, a tent, a dremel, an inflatable kayak and a yoga mat, on the first page of listings alone.

There are 421 people within 50 miles sharing 231 items, which is pretty amazing. Items range from the highly practical (drills) to the quirky (Hat – For Horse Races). Michelle Tomes in 33137 will lend you one of her cats: “We have 6, you’re welcome to borrow one.”

Manhattan-based site neigh*borrow is interested in creating a sense of community among its users.

Manhattan-based site neigh*borrow is interested in creating a sense of community among its users.

On Australian site Rentoid, you can borrow a private island in the barrier reef. You’ll have to pay $3000/day, but there is comfortable room for seven people, and complete privacy. Manhattan-based by-invitation-only site neigh*borrow bills itself as an online community that “connects people who are geographically or socially close to one another, and provides the tools to reduce the ‘friction’ of sharing.” It seems that many of these sites are driven by a desire to build communities and bring neighbors and strangers closer to one another by their common need for stuff. Perhaps our ability to acquire anything and everything we could ever want wiped out more than our need for borrowing?

For those who want to maintain a sense of privacy, Frenting allows you to limit your lend, borrow & share network to your Facebook friends.

For those who want to maintain a sense of privacy, Frenting allows you to limit your lend, borrow & share network to your Facebook friends.

For those not comfortable with letting a complete stranger use their nice sleeping bag for the weekend, Frenting allows you to limit your lend, borrow & share network to your Facebook friends, ensuring that only people you know and trust (because you don’t accept friend requests from total strangers, do you?) are able to view your available and needed  items (most of these sites lets you post a request for an item you need but cannot find listed).

Whatever your comfort level with this new lending economy may be, one thing is certain: it is great for the environment. More sharing means less stuff that needs to be made, which is especially beneficial when it comes to things like power tools that are often made using precious materials harvested (often very unsustainably) around the world.

So, the next time you need something, spend a few minutes searching around these sites and trade mindless lonesome consumption for a community-building peer-to-peer product-to-service system experience. The future is all about sharing.

Top photo by Vincent Ma, Creative Commons

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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What constitutes the good life? It’s a question we’ve asked ourselves since the dawn of time and something we all strive for. To us, the good life is not a destination but a journey. We want to see more positivity in the world. Thinking happy thoughts makes for happy people, and happy people are more productive, innovative and at peace with the world. We believe in the transformative power of good news.

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