5 Ways to Participate in the Sharing Economy

Earlier this month our car broke down unexpectedly. My husband was driving to a friend's house in the slushy, post-snowstorm streets when all of a sudden the car would no longer go. When he called to describe what happened, my first reaction was the completely nontechnical assumption that "it just pulled a muscle of some sorts" and would need to get something tightened or replaced. We figured that we would bring it to the mechanic to get fixed and be on our way driving the following weekend. 

But we were wrong. The mechanic called a couple days later to give the sad news: our car had died and could not be revived. We responded to the news like Matt Damon in Contagion did when the doctor apologetically told him that his wife was gone: "Okay, so when can I see her?" Damon nervously asked the doctor in the hospital hallway, eager to talk to his wife. The doctor more bluntly reaffirmed the truth: "Your wife is dead." It was unclear exactly what caused our car to die, but we knew one thing for sure: we would need to find a new mode of transportation.

Our first plan of action was to research and plan to buy a new car. Our old car was an inexpensive yet reliable mode of transportation for running errands, taking weekend trips, and getting around the city. We figured we would buy a similar type of car, only with two new stipulations: it had to be safe and it had to have an automatic transmission. While I know how to drive a manual car, I have strongly preferred not to since I mysteriously (and dangerously) shifted from third to first gear in the middle of oncoming traffic. 

After sifting through the complicated how-tos of how to buy a used car without it being a lemon, I stopped to ask a question that didn't exist even a few years ago:

Why do we need to buy a new car when we can access cars through ZipCar, Uber, and other methods?

My husband was skeptical at first, wondering whether it would be economically viable for our driving needs compared to the cost-per-use of buying an affordable used car. But after researching and comparing the costs for car sharing versus car owning, we determined that car sharing may actually be the cheaper, better option. We decided to try car sharing through companies like ZipCar, Uber, RelayRides, Lyft, and others for the next three months, and then reassess whether this new lifestyle worked for us. 

The question I asked is bigger than the experiment my husband and I are conducting for one segment of our lives: transportation by car. It's essentially the key question of the collaborative consumption movement, also known as the sharing economy or the peer economy.

The traditional questions were: "Where can I buy _____? Who can I buy ____ from?" You can buy a car from the car dealer. You can buy a hotel room from the hotel. You can buy clothes from the department store.

The new question is: "Why buy new ______ when I can get it from ______ for ______?" You can fill in the blanks with almost anything. Why buy a new car when I can rent a car from a neighbor through RelayRides for less money and fewer carbon emissions? Why buy a hotel room when I can get a place to stay from AirBnB for way cheaper and have a more delightful, local experience? Why buy new clothing when I can get it from Poshmark, thredUP, or Tradesy for less money and environmental impact?  

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The key premise of the collaborative consumption or sharing economy is that access is more valuable than ownership. While this may not seem like such a radical concept at first glance, this new model of consumption has the potential to send huge waves throughout society. In Fast Company, economist Umair Haque reports that the collaborative economy "has the potential to be lethally disruptive." After all, what happens if consumers like me begin consuming less and sharing more? Haque answers: "The effect on margins of traditional corporations is going to be disproportionately greater, which means certain industries have to rewire themselves or prepare to sink into the quicksand of the past."

The sharing economy disrupts the traditional consumption-based system, turning everyday consumers into producers, sharers, or both.

Neal Gordenflo, the founder of Shareable, a nonprofit hub for individuals and communities to learn about and foster peer-to-peer sharing, explains it this way: "Business has spent centuries making buying really easy. We're just at the beginning of making sharing easy." While it may take a bit more planning and organization, I am confident that the sharing economy will reduce costs (both financial and environmental) and delight participants in new ways. 


How I Participate in the Sharing Economy

Below are a few ways that I have or plan to participate in the sharing economy in 5 categories: transportation, fashion and accessories, accommodations/travel, errands/tasks, and home products.

1. TRANSPORTATION

ZipCar is the world's largest car renting and car sharing service. Use this link to get $25 off your first ride!

ZipCar is the world's largest car renting and car sharing service. Use this link to get $25 off your first ride!

 
RelayRides is the world's largest peer-to-peer car sharing and renting service. Car owners can list their vehicles, and those that need a ride can rent one by the day, week, or even month.

RelayRides is the world's largest peer-to-peer car sharing and renting service. Car owners can list their vehicles, and those that need a ride can rent one by the day, week, or even month.

Uber is a mobile app that connects passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire and ridesharing services. Use the promo code QFH51 to get $20 off your first ride (and I get $20 when you take your first ride). 

Uber is a mobile app that connects passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire and ridesharing services. Use the promo code QFH51 to get $20 off your first ride (and I get $20 when you take your first ride). 

Getaround is a hybrid between ZipCar and RelayRides where car owners can rent out their cars for hourly, daily, or monthly rates. 

Getaround is a hybrid between ZipCar and RelayRides where car owners can rent out their cars for hourly, daily, or monthly rates. 


2. FASHION & ACCESSORIES

Tradesy is an online marketplace where you can buy, sell, and trade high-quality and designer women's fashion. Use this link to get $15 off your first purchase!

Tradesy is an online marketplace where you can buy, sell, and trade high-quality and designer women's fashion. Use this link to get $15 off your first purchase!

Poshmark is an social app to buy, sell, and trade women's clothing and accessories. Use code HNLUV to earn $5 in credit toward your first purchase, and check out my closet here!

Poshmark is an social app to buy, sell, and trade women's clothing and accessories. Use code HNLUV to earn $5 in credit toward your first purchase, and check out my closet here!

thredUP is a simpler, digital version of a consignment shop that purchases women's and children's clothing and gives the seller a cut of the final sale. Use this link to get $10 off your first purchase!

thredUP is a simpler, digital version of a consignment shop that purchases women's and children's clothing and gives the seller a cut of the final sale. Use this link to get $10 off your first purchase!

Threaflip offers women a simple way to convert their closets into a dynamic boutique-like experience, connecting buyers with sellers, and capturing the collaborative energy of shopping with friends.

Threaflip offers women a simple way to convert their closets into a dynamic boutique-like experience, connecting buyers with sellers, and capturing the collaborative energy of shopping with friends.


3. ACCOMMODATIONS/TRAVEL 

Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world — online or from a mobile phone. Use this link to get $25 off your first booking!

Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world — online or from a mobile phone. Use this link to get $25 off your first booking!

Vayable is a place to discover unique, cultural experiences from design, photography and street art experiences, to ethnic food tours, private dinners hosted by locals, backroads wine tastings and underground history, sightseeing and immersive cultural exchange. Vayable is a home for anyone looking to experience honest, local culture through experiences created and hosted by passionate local Insiders.

Vayable is a place to discover unique, cultural experiences from design, photography and street art experiences, to ethnic food tours, private dinners hosted by locals, backroads wine tastings and underground history, sightseeing and immersive cultural exchange. Vayable is a home for anyone looking to experience honest, local culture through experiences created and hosted by passionate local Insiders.


4. ERRANDS/TASKS

TaskRabbit is an online and mobile marketplace that connects neighbors and entrepreneurially-minded professionals to contribute their time and skills to help busy people find extra time in their days to do the things they love.

TaskRabbit is an online and mobile marketplace that connects neighbors and entrepreneurially-minded professionals to contribute their time and skills to help busy people find extra time in their days to do the things they love.

Taskhub is the trusted online marketplace for finding local services and making money. You can use Taskhub to find, hire and review trusted local services in one place.

Taskhub is the trusted online marketplace for finding local services and making money. You can use Taskhub to find, hire and review trusted local services in one place.


5. HOME PRODUCTS

Freecyle is a decentralized, digital network where people can list items for free or items that they want for free. I got a loveseat off of Freecycle that I reupholstered into one of my favorite pieces in my home!

Freecyle is a decentralized, digital network where people can list items for free or items that they want for free. I got a loveseat off of Freecycle that I reupholstered into one of my favorite pieces in my home!

reCrib is the premier online marketplace for the best, gently used baby and kids gear – the must-have cribs, beds, changing tables, dressers, strollers, high chairs, bouncy seats, bicycles, and more.

reCrib is the premier online marketplace for the best, gently used baby and kids gear – the must-have cribs, beds, changing tables, dressers, strollers, high chairs, bouncy seats, bicycles, and more.

Yerdle is a marketplace where everything is free. From camping gear to electronics, thousands of items are given & received. Why buy new when it's free on yerdle?

Yerdle is a marketplace where everything is free. From camping gear to electronics, thousands of items are given & received. Why buy new when it's free on yerdle?

craigslist is a classified advertisements website with sections devoted to jobs, housing, personals, for sale, items wanted, services, community, gigs, résumés, and discussion forums. Be sure to check out the free section!

craigslist is a classified advertisements website with sections devoted to jobs, housing, personals, for sale, items wanted, services, community, gigs, résumés, and discussion forums. Be sure to check out the free section!

Note: Affiliate links or codes are included in this post through which I may receive a small commission.