The Many Benefits of Sharing

Share your resources and enjoy social, financial, and environmental benefits.

By , Attorney · UC Berkeley School of Law

We tend to consider it a given that sharing is a good thing. As children, we're taught (and made) to share our toys, crayons, and rooms. As we age, our toys and personal space become larger and more expensive, and we share them less and less, but we still value the idea of sharing. As an adult, you can still share resources, including housing, transportation, gardens, food, meals, jobs, caregivers, and so on.

But why do it? How can sharing a car with your neighbor or an office with others improve your life and the world? What are the reasons you might want to share in ways you've never considered? The benefits of sharing are many. Sharing can benefit us personally and financially, making the world much better.

What Is Sharing?

As defined 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; everyone involved in sharing arrangements gives and gets 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 or
  • cooperate to get something done, share responsibilities like child care, or collectively purchase goods or services.

How to Get Started With Sharing

The examples above 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 a vacation home. Your goals will determine where you start bringing more sharing into your life.

Finding Other Sharers

Once you've figured out your goals and how you might want to start sharing, you can consider how you might find fellow sharers. Often, a natural fit arises 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 with the same goals and sharing interests that you have. But you must be extremely cautious when dealing with people you don't know online.

Social and Personal Benefits of Sharing

Here are some of the ways that your life and society as a whole will be better because of sharing. For example, sharing can help everyone:

  • get to know our neighbors and make neighborhoods safer
  • make friends
  • find resources and referrals more easily
  • find new ways to relate to friends, relatives, coworkers, and neighbors
  • lighten your load of responsibilities
  • create more free time
  • meet the needs of seniors and people with disabilities
  • increase resources and opportunities for low-income households
  • support small businesses and buy local
  • access better nutrition, and
  • access higher quality goods.

Environmental Benefits of Sharing

Sharing is also kind to the planet. It:

  • uses space, energy, and resources more efficiently
  • reduces consumption
  • reduces waste
  • reduces energy use
  • helps us invest in green products, alternative energy, and durable goods
  • shrinks your carbon footprint
  • sets a green example for others, and
  • helps take cars off the road.

Financial Benefits of Sharing

The financial benefits of sharing can really add up. Through sharing, you can:

  • spread the cost of owning high-quality and durable goods
  • reduce the cost of caring for a child or other family member
  • reduce the cost of food, fuel, and supplies
  • accomplish home repairs without paying for labor
  • spread the risk of loss, damage, and depreciation
  • share homeownership and build equity
  • save money through collective buying and
  • get access to luxury items you couldn't afford alone.

Sharing Agreements

After having made a sharing plan and found sharing partners, it's crucial to 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're sharing to how you'll manage any money that's involved and how you'll resolve any conflicts that might arise.

Generally, it's a good idea to put your sharing agreement in writing, especially if you'll be sharing a major item, like a car. If you will be sharing real estate, have a lawyer draft or at least review your documents.

Once you've taken these simple steps, you'll have a sharing arrangement you can rely on. And you'll be using your time wisely, building relationships, and creating a better, more sharing world.

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