People make sharing arrangements for different reasons. Your sharing goals will often determine what you decide to share, and in what ways. In our experience, most people share for one or more of these reasons:
If you're looking to save money, sharing is a very effective strategy. Sharing cuts the costs of buying, maintaining, and using property or hiring someone to provide services. Rather than paying the full cost of a care provider, truck, magazine subscription, or lawnmower, for example, you and each person you share with can shoulder a fraction of the cost. Sometimes, you can save almost all of what it would cost you to buy property by sharing with people who already own it. If, for example, you join a neighborhood tool sharing group, you might get to use a variety of expensive tools that others have contributed, without having to buy anything.
You can use the worksheet below to brainstorm about your sharing goals relating to money and property. We've provided a few examples to help you get started; ideas for all of these categories—and more—are covered in Part II. You'll find a blank copy of this form in Appendix B.
|Money and Property Worksheet|
|How I Spend Money||How Much I Spend Per Month||Ways to Share and Possible Savings|
|Food||Buy bulk food and share with neighbors or coworkers; may save $100 per month.|
|Car/Transportation||Carpool to work; give up my car and use a carshare service. Could save up to $300 per month.|
|Entertainment/Vacations/Recreation||Find enough people who also want to share a vacation home; explore fractional ownership; buy into an existing sharing group.|
Sharing can also save you time—for most of us, something that is at a premium. It's amazing how spending time sharing actually gives you more free time. For example, if you share meals with four coworkers, you'll have to spend the time to make lunch for five once a week, but you'll save the time it would take you to make your own lunch on the other four days. Below is a worksheet for you to consider how you might open up some of your time by sharing, with some sample entries; a blank copy is in Appendix B.
|Time and Efficiency Worksheet|
|How I Spend Time||Ways to Save Time by Sharing|
|Commuting||Arrange a jobsharing situation that allows each of us to telecommute|
|Home repair/Housework/Yard work||Start a neighborhood home improvement group.|
Start a skills-sharing group so I learn more about how to do things and become faster.
|Caring for others (children, adults, pets)||Hire a shared caregiver with the family down the street.|
|I would like more time for:||Make time for taking Spanish class after work: Start a dog-walking share so I can come home later once or twice a week.|
Sharing is one of the easiest ways there is to start living a greener life. Adopting even one of the examples below can make a real difference in the resources you consume and, therefore, a real difference in the health of your community and the planet. Appendix B includes a blank copy of the chart below.
|Green Goals||Ways to Live More Sustainably By Sharing|
|Buy fewer consumer goods||Share items like a vacuum cleaner, tools, or BBQ|
|Obtain food from more sustainable sources||Start a community food garden or join a community supported agriculture (CSA) program.|
|Reduce home energy use and use renewable energy sources||Find others who are interested in solar energy and reduce costs through collective bargaining.|
Start a home energy savings group.
|Be greener at work|
|Buy environmentally friendly products|
Getting to know your neighbors, coworkers, and friends you might not have met yet is another way that sharing can improve your quality of life.
If participating more in the life of your community, or being part of building community yourself, is one of your reasons for sharing, here is a worksheet with examples that will help you start thinking about what might work in your own life. A blank copy is in Appendix B.
|Community Building Worksheet|
|Community Building Goals||Ways to Build Community by Sharing|
|Get to know neighbors||Plan a neighborhood potluck block party.|
Start a goods-sharing group or a disaster-preparedness group.
|Help neighbors and get help in return||Offer to share child care or pet care with a neighbor|
|Get to know coworkers better||Start a mealsharing group.|
You may have noticed that many of the suggestions in the worksheets above are overlapping—for example, starting a neighborhood home improvement group is a way to save time and get to know your neighbors. Arranging a carpool saves time and reduces your carbon footprint. Many of the ideas listed above also fall into the category of getting help—with projects (home improvement), with caring for others (sharing a caregiver or nanny), or with learning a skill (starting a group to share skills at your workplace). Use the chart below to consider the things you might need help with. Our version includes some examples; you'll find a blank copy in Appendix B.