September 8, 2011

5 Ways to Reduce Waste through Sharing.

Look around the house and really consider the utility of all the things that fill it. How many do we use on a daily basis?

How many sit there collecting dust because we only use them once a year, or less?

If we want to create a more sustainable life, there are plenty of sharing services and online communities that can help us reduce waste, make a little money, and reconnect with what’s really important: people!

Share Clothing: According to the EPA, an estimated 12.7 million tons of textiles were generated in 2009, but only 13.8 percent of clothing and footwear and 17.1 percent of items such as sheets and pillowcases were recovered for export or recycling. More importantly, how many garments are taking up room in your closet, even though it’s been years since they were worn?

You can share clothing by donating it to local charities or thrift stores, or organizing a swap event at your neighborhood, church, or school. You can also check out sites like The S.W.A.P. Team, ClothingSwap.com, Swap for Good, and The Swapaholics to find clothing swaps near you. And the next time you find yourself daydreaming about a new shirt or accessory, check out Wear Today Gone Tomorrow , Renttherunway, Bag Borrow & Steal or Fashionhire to rent authentic designer clothing for up to 90 percent off retail prices. When you’re done, they return to the system to be enjoyed by someone else.

Share Books and Media: I’ll be the first to admit that there’s something special about holding a new book in your hands, but the real benefit of a book is the experience of reading, not storing it on a shelf. Why not give someone else the pleasure of that experience and save a few trees while you’re at it? BookMooch is an online community that makes it easy to give away books you no longer need in exchange for books you really want. Goozex does the same thing for video games and movies. Swap.com works for all of the above and more.

Share Your Home: Do you have an extra room that sits empty unless you’ve got guests? Do you know all the best spots to eat and explore in your town, and love to share that knowledge with others? Consider becoming a host through one of the web’s most prominent travel-sharing communities, like AirBnB, iStopOver, Roomorama, or Tripping. These sites will help you find travelers looking for unique accommodations and experiences.

Share a Car: Did you know that over 25 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from vehicles used for transportation? It’s also been found that 25 percent of all trips are made within a mile of the home and 50 percent of the working population commutes five miles or less to work. If you’ve been thinking about giving up your car for a bike or public transportation, but worry about those few occasions when you really need a personal vehicle, car sharing is a great way to ease into the transition.

If you live in a big city, services like ZipCar, RelayRides, Getaround, Just Share It, and Spride can help connect you with companies and even individuals who will rent you a car for short-term use. If you’re just looking for a ride Zimride, GoLoco, and eRideShare – can help you find a car that’s traveling in the right direction, or offer to share your car to other travelers.

Share Energy: Most families don’t have the money to put solar panels on their roof or erect a wind turbine in their yard. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t help your community generate renewable energy. Some companies, like Solar Mosaic and SolarShare Bonds in Canada, use the principles of crowd-funding to create unique solar financing opportunities, which can help connect those who have roofs with community members who want to see more solar energy pumped into the grid.

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Beth Buczynski  |  Contribution: 500