Collect moments, not things – or so the collaborative consumption movement proposes as a solution. Across several projects and websites, its proponents aim to improve our everyday lives and establish new networks with minimal effort.

Why buy expensive goods you might only use once or twice? The minds behind Why Own It aim to answer this question with their recently launched app. Their straight-forward premise: Lend and borrow more to buy less! Whether travel suitcase, power drill, lawnmower, DVD collection, or guitar – registered users can simply upload images of their underused goods, borrow those of others, or collect bonus points to be exchanged at network partners like carsharing company Car2Go or hospitality portal Airbnb.

On an international level, the social network Frents pursues a similar avenue. Here, users share their possessions to monetize or refinance their purchase. Registered users get to see who owns what in their neighborhood and what can be rented. As a charming side effect you quickly get to know your neighbors.

Photo by Luzzinteruptus
Photo by Luzzinteruptus

Many of us live by the adage “never throw away old books.” But what to do with all the dead weight collecting dust in a box or basement? Book swaps offer the most obvious win-win for all avid readers. While getting rid of finished works, they prompt a steady influx of new reading material. More and more cities boast privately promoted and often lovingly designed micro libraries in public space – among them well-known projects like the, by now global, community around the Little Free Library.

Probably best-known in the virtual realm of literary swaps, however, is the Bookcrossing platform. The online portal’s convincing motto: Release and capture! Bookcrossing encourages lovers of the written word to mark their books with an ID and then drop them off in a nearby café, an airport, or a park of their choice. The internet allows them to trace their book’s journey, joining like-minded souls via this contemporary message-in-a-bottle, and encouraging literary debate. At the point of writing, there are 1.8 million bookcrossers in 132 countries who can join the fun at community conventions, via newsletter updates, or through discounts on new book purchases.

Give box by Iwan Gabovitch
Give box by Iwan Gabovitch
Give box by Iwan Gabovitch

And let us not forget all those shameful wardrobe disasters, old toys, surplus hobby gizmos, or unneeded household devices to be rescued from the trash heap: Fleamarkets are designed to turn these unwanted goods into spare cash, while charitable institutions, “free shops” (where anyone can take or leave spare items), or give boxes will take them off your hands to make room for new arrivals. Or turn to online portals like Swap.com, Kleiderkreisel, Thred up, and Clothing Swap to make a stance against the prevalent throwaway mentality.

In this spirit, we should not ignore the staggering 1.3 billion tons of food relegated to the garbage every year – amounting to a third of the world’s annual output! With this in mind, German platform Foodsharing pursues a simple, yet convincing approach: People share their food without any money changing hands. Whether producer, retailer, or consumer – anyone can register on the platform to offer, collect, or share surplus food that would otherwise go to waste. The initiative aims to highlight food’s true value and our current wasteful behavior. The successful drive has already prompted several tons of food to change hands.
Sharing means caring: Together, not alone, we can make this world a better place – why not give it a try?

Photo by BAUFACHFRAU Berlin eV
Photo by BAUFACHFRAU Berlin eV
Photo by BAUFACHFRAU Berlin eV

Text: Romy Uebel
Header image: Atelier Conradi