Sharing Goods to Reduce Consumption and Cut Waste

iStock_000001957469XSmallModern society comes with a lot of “I need it’s”, doesn’t it? Everywhere you look, television, billboards, the Internet, magazines, newspapers and radios try to tell us what we need to buy and consume in order to be happy. Those smiley faces aren’t paid the big bucks without reason. Happiness sell! The marketers are very good at their jobs, and every single one of us falls for it at some point or another no matter how hard we try to avoid it. The gross over-consumption around the world is filling our landfills and recycling bins with unnecessary waste, both toxic and benign alike. So what is one thing that we, the average people here on the planet, can do to help each other avoid the endless stream of goods that we are being sold?

Start Sharing.

While we cannot necessarily share a roll of paper towels, a television or our couches, there are some major purchases that can be shared amongst neighborhood friends or family members without too much trouble. When I was growing up, two of my neighbors shared a snowblower each winter. One of them kept it at their house in the garage, but each time there was a snow storm they each got their chance to use it, taking turns doing both of their driveways. Snowblowers were very expensive back then (they aren’t that cheap now, either) and were not used all that often – so it was the perfect “sharing” appliance. (I had to shovel, just for the record.) By sharing this expensive piece of machinery they also kept one more snowblower from being made, bought, maintained, and eventually disposed of; imagine if families in every neighborhood could share major purchases like that? Remembering this from when I was kid got me wondering about what other products could be a shared financial burden between families while also effectively reducing our consumption, waste, and raw materials cost…and this is what I came up with:

  • Snowblowers, of course. These could be shared by several different families, not just two. It’s not like snowblowers are used all that often.
  • Lawnmowers. This one may be a little more difficult to pull off, as lawns need to be mowed more often than snow falls. But it could be done.
  • Garden tools like shovels, chainsaws, hoes, rakes, leaf blowers, tree trimmers. Let’s be honest, no one really like yardwork. So why not share those less-needed tools with others?
  • A Pool. Every kid in my neighborhood used to come swim at my house all summer long. While I can’ say my parents were too thrilled, monitoring all those kids, with some rules in place it would be easy for everyone to share the costs and monitoring.
  • Sports equipment. You only need one soccer ball to play soccer, so why does every kid on every block need to own his own? Good luck, though, on getting your kid to give up his or hers!
  • Camping equipment. Not sure about you, but I only go camping once in a while – and that gear isn’t cheap. Buy with a friend and share the costs to have the same experience.
  • Magazine subscriptions. A magazine swap cuts paper waste and saves money. You don’t mind reading “used” magazines, do you?
  • Books. You go to the library to borrow books, so why not share the ones you buy with your friends?


What would you add to the list?

These are just a few of the things that could be comfortably shared between friends and/or neighbors to both save money and reduce consumption and waste on so many levels. What do you think…could you share some of these things with your neighbor to save some cash and reduce your trash? If I had neighbors I liked or even talked to here where I live, I would certainly consider it!


Sharing Goods to Reduce Consumption and Cut Waste — 7 Comments

  1. My wife and her friends have shared books for years. It is sort of funny when we go there, we come home with a bag of books. Occasionally, I can find a book or two I am interested in too. I generally use the public library for my reading.

  2. We share books and sometimes lawn equipment with friends. I honestly think I shared a lot more when I was younger. With my cousins and uncle we would share everything from clothes, shoes, backpacks, etc. Everything got used again as long as it was in good condition.

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