The Basics of Sharing

Share property, resources, or obligations and live more sustainably.

More than ever these days, we all want to save time and money. Most of us also want to create peaceful and nurturing homes, live in healthy, sustainable neighborhoods and communities, and work in friendly and comfortable environments. One way to accomplish all of these goals is to do more sharing.

As we define it here, sharing refers to two or more (sometimes many more) people coming together to pool property, resources, or obligations to do or create something together. Sharing is mutual and reciprocal, and everyone involved in sharing arrangements is giving something and getting something. For example, people may:

  • Co-own property or pool resources such as tools or household items.
  • Share the use of property such as a car.
  • Cooperate to get something done, share responsibilities like child care, or collectively purchase goods or services.

These are just a few ways to share. To get started, you first need to consider your goals for sharing -- are you more interested in saving money, saving the planet, or getting to know your neighbors so that you can share child care? Or maybe you want to share an item you couldn't otherwise afford, like a hot tub or even a vacation home. Your goals will determine where you start in bringing more sharing into your life. For more information on how sharing can improve your life, see Nolo's article The Many Benefits of Sharing.

Once you've figured out your goals and how you might want to start sharing, you can start considering how you might find fellow sharers. Often, there's a natural fit with friends, family, and neighbors you already know. Other times, your work colleagues are good sharing partners. And you can also use the Internet to find others who have the same goals and sharing interests that you do.

Finally, having made a sharing plan and found sharing partners, it's crucial that you spend some time planning and considering the important questions that apply to almost any sharing agreement, from why you are sharing, to a clear definition of exactly what you are sharing, to how you'll manage any money that's involved and how you'll resolve any conflicts that might arise.

Once you've taken these simple steps, you'll have a sharing arrangement that you can rely on. And you'll be using your time wisely, building relationships, and creating a better, more sharing world. For more information about how you can incorporate sharing into your life and your community, see The Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life & Build Community , by Janelle Orsi and Emily Doskow (Nolo).

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