The Shared Community
Why you don’t need to own everything.
For along time, what we own has seemingly been a fundamental factor in our societal status. This is a result of the culture we have developed that ‘things’ equal value. When Jared and I started our minimalism journey, it was almost out of rebellion. For us, it was an endless cycle. We would buy something new, then a better version would come out; my friends would buy new clothes, so I would buy new clothes; brand new cars were a sign of success, so we bought brand new cars. We were sick of always feeling like we were running a losing race and despised the idea of consumer driven status, so one day, we simply opted out.
After a few years of minimising our ‘stuff’, we realised that the only things we really needed to own were the things we used regularly. However, every now and then we would need certain things like tools, fold up tables, clothing racks, extra chairs, a fancy dress costume, gardening equipment, snow gear, cake tins, decorative lights, a big esky, blow-up mattress’ and large suitcases. This is where the ‘shared community’ comes in.
The shared community concept is an idea I first heard about when I read Brooke McAlarys’ book ‘Slow’. It is a community of people, who want to minimise their consumption by sharing items that have limited use. BRILLIANT! We already hire trucks, formal clothing and even white goods but in 2019, we have no system for sharing other limited use household items like international power adapters, blow-up mattresses, or electric mixers.
You would think the concept of sharing would be so easy, so why is it that when we need one of these items, we are more inclined to go out and buy it rather than borrow it? Well, the price of purchasing new items is going down, most of the time sadly due to new developments in cheaper materials (which are usually terrible for our environment) and underpaying outsourced manufacturers. This low cost is our justification for purchasing the item ourselves, “It’s cheap, we’ll just buy one”, has come out of my mouth more times than I can remember. However, if you are pursuing a conscious and minimalistic lifestyle, over-consuming unnecessary items is not a sustainable practise. The other barrier is the stigma. The stigma that borrowing is old fashioned and not something that ‘grown-up’s’ do. But, I think we are all ‘pride aside’ people who see past the stigma and are just ready for a simpler, less cluttered life. Sharing and all!
So, here are my top 6 reasons why sharing is better:
It’s a more responsible way of consuming and better for our planet.
You don’t have to own everything! Your house will look less like a storage unit and more like a home, yay for minimalism!
With less clutter comes a more relaxed and productive mind.
You save money. Winner.
You’re creating the opportunity to see your friends and community face-to-face in the mists of an online world. Even if it’s only for a minute or two, it does wonders for the heart.
The best part is that anyone can create their own ‘shared community’ right now. You can create a group chat going with your friends, a facebook group or even use your community group, (sport, mums group etc). Now when you are borrowing someone else’s property, obviously there are some things to keep in mind and some things you will need to consider. I have popped a few of them down;
Don’t be a jerk. If you’re going to borrow someone else’s belongings, take care of them and offer to replace or fix an item if you damage it.
Plan ahead! If you know what you are doing in advance then you are more likely to find someone who can lend you what you need.
Once you are finished with an item, return it as soon as you can so that others have the opportunity to borrow too.
Some things aren’t for borrowing; underwear, toothbrushes and sentimental or incredibly valuable items. Don’t lend something that is irreplaceable to you, we are all human and things happen, so just keep those things just for you.
Always say thank you, and a nice note of coffee delivery never goes unappreciated.
Are you onboard yet? Ready to create a shared community among your friends and family? Once you have created your group and explained what it’s all about, you ask everyone to list what items they have that might be good for others to borrow!
Here are some ideas:
Sporting Equipment (snow gear, surfboards, tennis racquets, etc)
Extra blankets or bedding for occasional guests
Platters, crockery and glasswear
Lawnmowers (a great thing to share with a neighbour!)
Also, feel free to just wing it (you do you) and become more open to the concept of borrowing rather than purchasing. And if you haven’t read ‘Slow’ yet, I highly recommend it! Maybe it can be the first thing that you borrow ;)