This will give you more money, more friends and make you less selfish…

The world we live in is riddled with problems. We may not actively recognise them, but they’re everywhere. The global economy, particularly those in developed countries, runs on debt. Average household spending exceeds average household income. We’re isolated emotionally and as we immerse ourselves deeper and deeper into technology, loneliness worsens. And probably worst of all, we’re selfish. We rarely think of others before we think of ourselves, we rarely want to do something to improve someone else’s life if it comes at a cost to our own.

This of course is a broad generalisation, but if we each take a moment to reflect, we’re likely to see these signs in ourselves. But what if there was a simple solution that could help us financially, help us to build social connections and help us to be more selfless… Would you do it?

A sharing economy is a peer-to-peer collaborative economy where human and physical resources are shared. It sometimes involves money and it sometimes doesn’t. But no matter how you use it, it will benefit you in one of the above ways.

You see we all waste so much. I’m not talking about clothes we grow out of or food that we dispose of. I’m talking about the everyday things that we take for granted. The three or four spare seats in the car, the spare bedroom that never gets touched unless the grandkids sleep over or the vegetables we grow in our garden that die before we have a chance to use them.

The sharing economy makes use of those things we’re wasting so other people can benefit from them and possibly you too. By doing things like:

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  • Renting out a room in your house temporarily for a traveller or a student you can earn an income and you also receive companionship. To find out more visit https://www.airbnb.com.au
  • Using a car pool with people in your street means that everyone saves on petrol and you can do a weekly commute to the grocery store together or local market. Again you get companionship, you’re doing an act of kindness or you can also ask for a small payment. To find out more visit http://www.carpoolone.com.au/
  • If you have a garden patch then why not create a community garden? You can charge a small amount for your herbs and vegetables or can give them away for free in an act of selflessness. To find out more go to http://communitygarden.org.au/
  • Once you read books conduct a bookswap with friends so you can enjoy reading more without having to pay for it. To find out more visit http://www.bookswapaustralia.com.au/
  • Even try clothes swapping or participating in a suitcase rummage and make sure your clothes go to a new home. To find out more visit http://clothingexchange.com.au/
  • On your next holiday why not try doing a home swap? Rather than paying for accommodation, see if there is someone somewhere in the world who would like to swap homes with you for a short period of time so you can enjoy a cheap holiday. To find out more go to https://www.homeexchange.com/en/

They’re small things but they’re all based around three key principals; you have to trust to be trusted, unused value is wasted value and it’s sharing not owning. Whether you are the recipient of a service or the provider of a service in a sharing economy, there are benefits financially, emotionally and socially. It’s not the answer to the big problems in life but it is definitely a step towards living a better, kinder more valuable life.

Tell us, do you already use any “sharing economy” principles?