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PRESS RELEASE: By Joining the $100 Billion-Plus “Sharing Economy,” Americans Can Reduce Living Costs, Protect the Environment, and Improve Quality of Life

April 25, 2012

New guide provides fun tips, videos, and practical resources to help individuals and groups foster greater sharing in their cities, towns, and neighborhoods.

Charlottesville, Va.—By sharing their stuff, time, skills, and space, Americans can save money and work together to create more resilient, happy, and sustainable communities, according to a new online guide released today by the Center for a New American Dream. The Guide to Sharing, produced in partnership with the Web-based magazine Shareable, describes the emerging movement toward “collaborative consumption” and provides practical resources for people seeking to create positive change in their communities through 21st-century sharing initiatives.

“Sharing is one of the first things we learn as kids, but we tend to forget about its many benefits when we become adults,” said Wendy Philleo, executive director of New Dream. “By taking advantage of innovative approaches to sharing—whether through tool libraries, clothing swaps, co-ops, or time banking—we can reduce the costs and other burdens associated with ownership and expand access to the vast underutilized resources in our communities.”

The Guide to Sharing is the first in a series of online guides being developed as part of New Dream’s Community Action Kit, a creative, visually appealing, and easy-to-use kit that promotes collective action and civic engagement to build stronger communities. The Action Kit guides are designed to help people around the country—from neighborhood associations and faith-based groups to local friend and community networks—organize and implement fun and impactful projects in their cities, towns, and neighborhoods.

Sharing resources is increasingly critical as communities across the United States suffer from the effects of community fragmentation, economic downturn, and environmental degradation. Many of the things that Americans own sit untouched for most of the year, representing wasted—and underutilized—resources. According to the guide, the average American uses his or her car only 8 percent of the time, while the average power drill is used only 6 to 13 minutes in its lifetime. To house their excess “stuff,” Americans spend an estimated $22 billion annually on self storage.

“Sharing is the true basis for prosperity; it enables more inclusive and intensive use of the goods, services, and talents that abound in a community,” said Neal Gorenflo, co-founder and publisher of Shareable. “The ‘access-over-ownership’ model liberates citizens from some of the headaches of ownership—such as taxes, insurance, storage, maintenance, and disposal—plus it saves people money and builds community.” 

Worldwide, the sharing economy has grown into an estimated $110 billion-plus market. Building on age-old roots but taking advantage of new online networks, innovative approaches to collaborative consumption are being developed within communities and on the Web to help people share goods and services more easily. Worldwide, some 2.2 million bike-sharing trips are taken each month, while more than 3 million people have “couch-surfed ” through home and apartment sharing.

New Dream’s Guide to Sharing provides ideas for action in four main areas:

  • Organize a Community Swap: Help people get access to pre-owned items—and give idle stuff a second life—by setting up community swaps and marketplaces where you can share and trade goods in a fun, cooperative, and often low-cost setting. Includes a short video and step-by-step guidance on “Hosting a Community Clothing Swap.”
  • Lend Locally: We share books in public libraries, so why not create lending locations for other useful resources like toys, tools, cars, and even work spaces? Includes a short video and step-by-step guidance on “Starting a Tool Library.”
  • Share Time, Labor, and Skills: Through a time bank or skills exchange, community members can trade professional skills like carpentry or grant writing, as well as practical tasks like babysitting and lawnmowing—without exchanging any money. Includes a short video and step-by-step guidance on “Starting a Community Time Bank.”
  • Set Up a Co-op: The “co-operative” approach, in which co-op members jointly own or manage a good or service for their mutual benefit, has been around for a long time. But communities are now going beyond the traditional agricultural or housing co-op and applying the concept to things like transportation, gardens, and even renewable energy. Includes a short video and step-by-step guidance on “Starting a Solar Co-op.”

In the coming months, New Dream will release additional guides in its Community Action Kit covering topics that include building community, strengthening local economies, and greening your community. The Kit is part of New Dream’s Collaborative Communities program, which aims to help Americans move beyond individual and household action to collective action to address shared social, economic, and environmental challenges.

Notes to Editors:

For a free PDF of the Guide to Sharing, please contact Lisa Mastny at lisa@newdream.org or visit our website at www.newdream.org/communityactionkit.

For questions about the Guide, or to speak to someone at New Dream, please call 301-891-3683.

About the Center for a New American Dream
New Dream helps Americans reduce and shift their consumption to improve quality of life, protect the environment, and promote social justice. We seek to cultivate a new American dream—one that emphasizes community, ecological sustainability, and a celebration of non-material values. We envision a society that pursues not just “more,” but more of what matters—and less of what doesn’t. Learn more at www.newdream.org.

About Shareable
Shareable is a nonprofit online magazine that tells the story of sharing. We cover the people and projects bringing a shareable world to life and share how-tos. Learn more at www.shareable.net.

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