Stop buying, start with sharing and bartering

From the June 2012 edition of Agriculture Today. Beyond the kitchen table. Column by Sonia Muir, Rural Women’s Network

Collaborative consumption is helping the environment and our pockets in a range of practical ways – swapping, sharing, bartering, trading and renting goods and services.

It goes like this – you borrow a neighbour’s ladder, for example, so you don’t have to fork out funds to buy one and you don’t have to worry about where to store it. When you return the ladder, or afterwards, you can also return the favour in some way.

TIME Magazine proclaimed the collaborative consumption movement as one of the 10 ideas that will change the world.

I know my grandparents bartered, traded, shared and exchanged labour and goods all the time – especially in tough times.

In today’s world of buy, buy, buy, another option is to get back to a simpler approach to sustainable living.

The big difference today is that technology helps to make the process much easier, giving us the option to think before we instinctively reach for the wallet or credit card. The internet enables sharing and trading locally, regionally and even globally.

Ebay is one of the better known collaborative consumption-type websites which has become a common way of shopping or selling unwanted goods.

For some women, the internet has become an avenue for establishing online businesses they can run from their home or farm.

There are some great examples of modern day collaborative consumption web-based platforms.

Do you have a spare room, cottage or granny flat that is hardly ever used except when the kids are home? Or are you tired of staying in a motel room when you have to travel? works on the concept of renting a room in your home or in some cases even the whole house, by linking hosts with travellers prepared to pay for a more in-home people-centred experience.

If you are not bothered about making money you can also host people through the website. This online “club” brings travellers together and I have had wonderful experiences staying free with members in Morocco, Dubai, Romania and Australia. We have also hosted people in our home from Canada, Germany, Holland, France and Korea. Club members can look at each other’s profiles, send messages and post comments about their experience on the website, so you get to know a bit about them before you commit.

Another great site I discovered was where you can list your toys for free to swap or sell and is a handy port of call for secondhand ballet gear. is a global grassroots non-profit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns with each local group being moderated by local volunteers; membership is free.

Most websites involved in collaborative consumption offer reputation rankings so you can make more informed decisions.

Can anyone lend me a drill?

About nswrwn

NSW Rural Women’s Network is a government program working in innovative ways to promote leadership and action on rural women’s issues. The RWN team is dedicated to connecting and exchanging information with women and stakeholders in rural, regional and remote communities.
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One Response to Stop buying, start with sharing and bartering

  1. Winny says:

    I agree, bartering is a great way to save money and simplify your life. If you do it online you can even save costs on gas and a lot of time. I prefer because it’s so easy and they let you trade almost anything.

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