Getting our fair share

Bi-Weekly columnist looks into the benefits of expanding the practice of sharing

With today’s economy it’s gets harder and harder to make ends meet. For many of the younger generation, the thought of ever owning a home is nothing more than a pipe dream. They work two and three jobs just to meet their everyday basic needs. That’s sad.

But there could be relief for some who are willing to let go of the old school ways and embrace a new way of living life. It’s called sharing.

I recently read an article in Sunset Magazine about a Mountain View, California, man who quit his “meaningless” job at a shipping company to “become more connected with his community“.

The man, Neal Gorenflo, bounced around various Internet ventures which [according to Sunset’s article] “facilitated collaboration and sharing physical assets.”

It used to be bartering was the tool of those looking for ways to stretch an already stretched budget. Nowadays the rising star is “the sharing economy.”

The concept is simple, yet oh so very slick. Over one year, Gorenflo saw an annual savings of $16,800 just by using the sharing economy.

For example, Gorenflo saved $10,800 on child care by participating in a nanny share 36 hours a week. He said instead of paying the $16 rate, he paid $10 while the other family willing to share the nanny also paid $10. That made of a $6 per hour saving, or $216 a week.

He also saved on transportation by donating his car to charity. For the most part he now relies on public transportation and his bike. But during the workweek he car shares. Smart move when you consider your four-wheeled transportation sits idle 92 per cent of the time.

Car sharing can be quite formal or very informal with, for example, a neighbour who works opposite shifts than you. Simply split the cost of maintenance, insurance and other such things, and not only are you being kind to your pocketbook, but you are being kind to Mother Earth.

Take that old shovel in your garage. How often do you use it? Except during those busy spring months, it’s likely that you hardly pick it up. I’m willing to bet most of the neighbours on your street also own a shovel. Theirs likely sit forlornly propped against the shed wall waiting for someone, anyone to use it. But with sharing, one or two shovels could serve the whole street.

Not only does sharing preserve some of the Earth’s resources, but it can, in certain circumstances, foster a community in which neighbours meet their neighbours and a community truly becomes a community, just like when you were growing up.

I know our community is especially sharing when it comes to local produce and such, but every community could use a little more sharing.

I don’t have a Bosch as I prefer using knives and other tools when cooking. But, there are times, on occasion when I sure could use one. It’s quite possible that at least one of my neighbours has one I could borrow, thus saving me the expense of buying a kitchen tool I would seldom use. It’s also plausible that I have a tool that they might not have which they could use. What we used to call borrowing is now called sharing, but with wider range and possibility.

The possibilities are endless, as are the hidden benefits. In the end we would all benefit simply by virtue of using less of Earth’s resources in a thoughtful and respectful manner.

Oh, one last thing. There are things which should never be shared, such as toothbrushes.