With all this talk about the sharing economy being the way of the future, a person could easily be overwhelmed with visions of sleeping in bedrooms with multiple families or being forced to take out the entire neighborhood’s garbage. Never fear! There are all sorts of ways to participate in this new lifestyle without giving up your own individual home or identity. Check out our list of 25 simple ways to live more collaboratively and communally to start stretching your budget and limiting your footprint now.
Food and Gardening
Join a food coop. The merchandise is priced low because members, who are the exclusive shoppers, are responsible for regular shifts carrying out shop duties and keeping costs low. Often, these stores feature organic and local items.
Join a CSA: community supported agriculture. When you sign up at the beginning of the season, you are given a weekly or biweekly allotment of your local farms bounty. We’ve got the ins and outs and some recommendations.
Pot lucks are a great way to have a dinner party or picnic and everyone brings the meal they’re most proud of. Even better, have them all bring a plate, fork and knife so you have to do less cleaning.
Form a canning club. It’s fun to can veggies and fruit and pickles but it’s easier when you make lots. Create a group where you make a can for everyone and you’ll be tasting the rainbow all year round.
Have a compost party. After the recent heavy rains in the Northeast, many local farms experienced devastated crops. One such farm asked for volunteers to help bring it back to life. But are you a novice gardener? Ask your friends to collect their organic refuse and bring it to the party to create a group compost. Here’s the 101 on composting.
Have a food swap, similar to the canning club but this is a one day event. Everyone agrees to bring a certain amount of servings or cans and and you take home the same amount, just some one else’s. Check out BK Swappers in Brooklyn and SF Swappers in San Francisco.
Share some seeds because unless you’re architecting a farm, purchased packets of seeds often have far more than you need. Decide with a friend on the variety of things you want to plant and split your seed packets.
Co-gardening because if you’re already splitting seeds, what about sharing a plot or a space and divvying up the work or taking turns. Watering every other day seems so much more feasible than everyday, doesn’t it?
List serves, which are essentially giant email lists under one email address to easily contact a whole community, are great ways to communicate anything from resources you’re in search of to stoop sales you’re having to availability of lending a helping hand. Find the nearest or most relevant one and introduce yourself.
Have a block party and enlist your neighbors to help plan. There will have to be some sort of coordination of music, food, activities for kids and promotion, so get them all involved.
Community centers might sound out of fashion but they are still very much active. There is probably one near you that holds events and even offers cheap rentals for private events. Find yours.
Post things to lend on Krrb or in your building. What happens when you buy a ladder but only use it 6 times a year? It goes unused for most of its life. Why not offer your rarely used, higher priced stuff to a neighbor and before you know it, you’ll be borrowing things you’d rather not buy.
Community yard sales are another way to harness the power of numbers. With, let’s say, six houses having sales, as opposed to one, you’re bound to get people from other neighborhoods travelling to check out the goods. Check out our other tips on having the best darn sale.
Arts and Crafts
Have an art exchange by either temporarily switching the art you own with someone else to get a refresh on your walls, or permanently switch to beef up your diverse collection.
Join a song writing circle where you come together to share your new works with like-minded song writers to get critical feedback.
DIY parties are great motivators for that pile of whosiwhatsit that you’ve been totally planning on making into something more grand.
Rent a booth at a market with someone else. If you have similar stuff, your offerings will look bigger, if you have different stuff, your offering will appeal to a wider audience. It’s really a win/win situation.
Share a studio or commercial kitchen, which can often be expensive, so why not go in on it with someone else. Make those large scale paintings or that small batch of granola and get feedback while you’re at it.
Car sharing is possibly the easiest, cheapest and most environmentally friendly way of having access to the luxury of a car but not having to deal with it full time. We’ve already gone on about the awesomeness of car sharing in France.
Bike sharing is commonplace is some cities, and just starting out in others, and if they don’t have it in your city, why not start a little pool with friends or neighbors. A couple of old bikes and ground rules will surely make it feasible.
Car pooling is also a great way of sharing the luxury (or burden, depending on how you look at it) of a car. Take turns driving to school or work and all will be happy.
Nanny sharing is a great way to get your kids almost individualized attention while splitting the cost and ultimately giving your nanny a better rate. Plus, your kids will benefit from socializing with friends at an early age.
Home schooling is more and more popular these days, especially for the little ones. Gather a group and switch off on the teaching to share the skills you’ve picked up along the way.
A baby sitting coop gets a bunch of parents some adult time without breaking the bank.
Pet sitting coop is another way to spread the assistance and keep your pets happy. Don’t we all want that?
Give away your kids outgrown gear via Krrb, a list serve or fliers in the neighborhood. They outgrow them so fast and it will come back to you when lil Petey needs a baseball glove.
Create a map of local and like-minded shops and get each one to carry it. This way when one place gets a customer, they may all benefit from the traffic.
Community fundraising, like Kickstarter or Quirky, has become increasingly popular to not only gain funds for your next bright idea but to also start some grassroots marketing.
Form a business-to-business group to share tips, ideas and resources that everyone can benefit from. The better one business does, the better we all do.
Schedule meetups for likeminded professionals. Whether you cover industry topics and best practices or simply use it as a well-deserved break with people that get what you’re doing, it’ll be useful to network. Meetup.com is pretty handy!
How Are You Already Collaborating?
Maybe you would consider yourself a hippie, maybe you wouldn’t, either way, we think everyone is doing this a little in their everyday lives without really even thinking about it. Tell us how you are or planning to collaborate in your life.