The Gen Y Guide to Collaborative Consumption

WIki Image

Keith Johnson
KJ Permaculture

When our parents graduated from college, the bachelor’s degree was a coveted badge of honor. It gave applicants instant cred (and usually a larger paycheck) no matter what the job. Now, having a bachelor’s degree does nothing to make an applicant stand out from the masses. And if you’re applying for a job well below your skill level because you’re desperate for a paycheck, that B.S. degree will probably get your carefully crafted resume tossed in the trash.

American youth are slowly realizing that the old system is broken, and no longer holds the answer to all their dreams and desires. We’re discovering that stable, satisfying careers can be found outside the offices and factories around which our parents and grandparents built their lives. We’re acknowledging that the pursuit of bigger, better, and faster things have plunged our country into a time of despair and difficulty. We’re convinced that business as usual isn’t an option any longer–but what’s the alternative?

Together, we’re learning that instead of waiting for politicians and corporations to fix the system, it’s possible to create a better one of our own, right under their noses. A new way of living, in which access is valued over ownership, experience is valued over material possessions, and “mine” becomes “ours” so everyone’s needs are met without waste.

If these ideas get your blood pumping, there’s good news: young people all over the world are already making them a reality. It’s called collaborative consumption, (or the sharing economy) and it’s changing the way we work, play, and interact with each other. It’s fueled by the instant connection and communication of the internet, yet it’s manifesting itself in interesting ways offline too.

If you’re ready to connect with people who can help you save money, pursue your passions, and reduce waste, here’s a quick-start guide to your sharing experience:

1. Remove all items from the box and assess
Sit down with yourself (or some friends) and talk about what you’ve got, what you need, and what you could live without. Take stock of what you’d be willing to share, rent, or give away. Write down all the things you really need to be productive/happy/connected. Then, cross out all the things that you want just to have them, and highlight all the things that involve a valuable experience. Now you have a list you can tackle through sharing.

2. Connect to the power source
The collaborative consumption movement empowers people to thrive despite economic climate. Instead of looking to the government or corporations to tell us what we want or create a solution for our problems, we take action to meet our own needs in a creative fashion. This is our power source. Start looking for ways to share at school, on community billboards, by asking friends, or use the resources below:


  • – A roomate finder and roomates search service which covers thousands of cities nationwide.
  • How to Start a Housing Co-op – one of the best affordable housing options around, and shared food expenses and cooking can increase your savings.
  • Guide to Sharing a House – buying a home by yourself may be out of reach in high cost areas, but shared ownership might be the ticket.
  • Cohousing Directory  – Cohousing is homeownership in a neighborhood that shares.
  • Craigslist – find almost anything including a house or housemate on Craigslist.
Social Food
Personal Finance
  • Lending Club – An online financial community that brings together creditworthy borrowers and savvy investors so that both can benefit financially.
  • Zopa – Where people get together to lend and borrow money directly with each other, sidestepping the banks for a better deal.
  • Prosper – A peer-to-peer lending site that allows people to invest in each other in a way that is financially and socially rewarding.
  • SmartyPig – social savings bank that enables you to save for specific goals and engage friends and family to contribute.
  • How to Save Money by Sharing
Entrepreneurship / Work
  • CouchSurfing – An international non-profit network that connects travelers with locals in over 230 countries and territories around the world.
  • AirBnB – Connects people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay, all over the world.
  • iStopOver – Homeowners worldwide rent out space in their homes to travelers looking for unique accommodations.
  • Park at myHouse – Provides affordable and fine-free parking by enabling property-owners to rent out their empty driveways, garages, car parks etc. to drivers needing somewhere to park.
  • Roomorama – An online marketplace for short term rentals all over the world.
  • Tripping – Tripping enables you to connect safely with locals who will introduce you to their towns, their cultures, their lives and their friends.
  • How To Swap Cities – a guide on how to swap offices with someone from another city inspired by SwapYourShop.
  • Submate – a Parisian startup that helps you discover new people and things to do as defined by your regular train and subway commutes.
Land / Gardening
Media (Books, Movies, Games, Music)
  • BookMooch – Lets you give away books you no longer need in exchange for books you really want.
  • – An online swap marketplace for books, movies, music and games.
  • Goozex – A unique trading platform for video games and movies.
  • SwapaDVD – Trade DVDs for free.
  • Paperback Swap – Trade paperback books for free.
  • SwapaCD – Trade CDs for free.
Redistribution Sites (where uneeded stuff finds a loving home)
  • Freecycle – The original grassroots organization for giving and getting free stuff in your town.
  • craigslist – The ultimate free classifieds site with categories for free stuff, barters, and shares.
  • eBay – International online auction that allows you to buy from and sell to other individuals.
  • ecoSharing – The first sharing website that lets us share what we own with people we know and trust: our friends on facebook.
  • SpiltStuff – A new site that organizes local communities to buy in bulk and “split” the goods and the cost, thus reducing waste and unnecessary consumerism.
Renting and sharing of general goods where you live
  • Chegg – Rent expensive textbooks on the cheap.
  • Better World Books – Save big on used textbooks.
  • Textbookflix, – A system that lets you rent text books in the same way that you rent movies from Netflix.
  • Students for Free Culture – An international, chapter-based student organization that promotes the public interest in intellectual property and telecommunications policy.
  • Bloomsbury College – Crowdsorced learning for the entrepreneurial student.
  • CafeScribe – A new service that lets you download electronic copies of your textbook, add friends, and share your notes.
  • Notely – A collection of online tools (including a Facebook app) designed to help busy students organize their hectic lives.
  • Class Notes – A Facebook app that enables students to share handwritten or printed notes from class.
  • Free Technology Academy – free college classes on open source technology and standards.
  • Open Courseware – free college course materials offered by scores of top universities from around the world.

If you don’t see the sharing solution you need, check out our huge list of how to share guides on Shareable.  Or add resources you know about in comments.

3. Press the power button
Once you discover local opportunities for sharing and collaborating, it’s time to add the power: you. Get involved. Create a profile on sharing/renting/bartering site and actually list some stuff you could trade. Contact the moderator of a local offline sharing group and offer up your goods or services. Collaborative consumption requires a venture into a social world, even if it’s only online; you need to get out there.

4. Sync with other devices and enjoy
Ideas like eBay, Netflix, and GameFly are pretty well-known examples of sharing, but it’s important to remember that options exist offline as well. Sure, the internet makes it safe for us to share with strangers, but that doesn’t mean you should forget about the satisfaction of sharing face-to-face. Coworkingbrings collaboration into your professional life; a local food co-op brings sharing into your pantry, and skill-sharing communities bring comraderie to your weekend hobbies.

Don’t be afraid to let sharing/bartering/collaborating go viral in other areas of your life as well. You’ll discover, as Rachel Botsman does in What’s Mine is Yours, that “over time, these experiences create a deep shift in consumer mindset. Consumption is no longer an asymmetrical activity of endless acquisition but a dynamic push and pull of giving and collaborating in order to get what you want. Along the way, the acts of collaboration and giving become an end in itself.”

We’re Also Uncensored On…