As a child you have been taught to share. My child is four and she knows that it is proper to share with her friends, whether its a book, a toy and even clothes. She struggles with it, but in the end, it’s just stuff. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the word “share” as a verb means to use or enjoy with others. Sharing is a vital verb for humans because its the right thing to do, yet it is also hard to succumb to do it.

As adults, we strive to be on top of trends for fashion, for our homes or for ourselves. We may leave behind our sharing ability when we grow up and desire to own our own clothes, purses, sporting items and tech gadgets. Honestly, I struggle with my opportunity to share with others. The bottom-line is: I am selfish. It’s hard to let someone borrow something that belongs to you, when you worry about how it will return to you. You know you take care of your things, but will someone else take care of it? Stop worrying! Again, it’s just stuff. What good is that stuff doing sitting on your shelf? Let someone else enjoy it and if they ruin it. It’s just stuff.

Recently, I have seen a shift away from the selfish desire of ownership and a reversal to our childhood etiquette of sharing. When times are tough, why buy when you can borrow? This new shift is properly called, “Swap Trading,” where you swap your unwanted media items with friends, family or even strangers.

I think some items that you do not need to buy new include:

  • books
  • DVDs
  • video games
  • board games
  • music

If its the most recent, chances are someone you know, may already have it. I would start with friends first. But if your friends don’t have it, then there are a plethora of companies that offering sharing opportunities. One online company called Swap.com, is a place with access to more than 100,000 items and allows you to swap all things media-related, such as books, movies, etc. Each swap consists of a nominal transaction fee and the cost of shipping. Shipping wouldn’t be too bad, if its just one book or item.

My husband and I recently reviewed our movie collection and believe we only watch about 10% of what we own. This 10% consists of our daughter’s Barney, Barbie and Disney collection. We honestly regret buying all of these movies, which are sitting there collecting dust now. I love books. I have shelves of books that I plan to read one day, probably when I retire. We really should have borrowed instead of bought!

Another idea to support local charities is to host a Swap Party. A swap party benefits you and supports a charity. One I found online is Swap for Good that provides financial support to battle domestic violence. Swap for Good is a grassroots non-profit project to encourage people across the country to host clothing swaps, and ask for donations at the door to raise money for local domestic violence shelters.

The following video is from TEDxSydney where Rachel Botsman talks about the idea of collaborative consumption.

the author

Originally from Virginia, Jennifer C. Sellers is passionate about sustainability and conservation in South Carolina and throughout the world. She earned her BA in English from Coastal Carolina University and her MAS in Environmental Policy and Management from the University of Denver. She is a university sustainability coordinator that implements programs and teaches people about going green and being sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @MyGreenGlasses

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