Step into the sharing economy
The society is changing and so are the ways we go about with our everyday needs. And it needs to change too. Owning things is giving space to sharing and lending. Second-hand can be a good option. Space is valued in our homes too, we do not need to have it all ourselves. People want to invest more in quality instead of quantity. New services and start-ups makes all this easier, and so does straightforward peer-operation. Here are our tips for the sharing initiatives you can join or start using today.
PEER-BY - LEND THINGS YOU NEED, BORROW TO OTHERS
Peer-by lets you lend things from people in your neighbourhood. If you need a party tent, an electric drill, a sewing machine once in a while, but not that often, try it. You announce what you need and get answers from others, pick-up your item and maybe bring a bag of home-made cookies as a small thank-you. So simple is it. There is already quite a bit users in Belgium, so chances are high to find what you need.
The other side is that you can let other people use your stuff, especially the items you do not use all that often yourself. It is nice to help!
SWAP - GIVE AWAY WHAT YOU DO NOT USE, FIND SOMETHING YOU NEED
Swapping used clothes or mistake buys and accessories has become very popular in the last years. You can organise a swapping party together with your friends - and the friends of your friends. It is a nice way to spend time together, but also helps you to clear space in your wardrobe, and find something 'new' to wear.
Swapping can be done online too, when it is convenient for you. Eggs & Rabbit Holes is a brand new Belgian initiative to let people barter online. You do not exchange with one partner, but with several, to make finding the match easier. Another option is Iedereen ruilt mee.
EXCHANGE FAVOURS IN YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD
In many cities and towns there is a network of people who exchange small services favours among themselves. This can be babysitting, sewing, cooking, renovating, watering the flowers during the holiday etc. You do what you are good at and eager to do, and get help as an exchange from others. The system works often with unofficial local currency. Saves you money and introduces you to locals who you would maybe not meet otherwise.
In Mechelen, you can join LETS Mechelen.
THUISAFGHAALD.NL - COOK FOR OTHERS OR BUY A HOMEMADE MEAL
Shareyourmeal.net or thuisgehaald.nl is a service online, where you can announce a homemade meal for others to buy and pick-up from your place, or look for home-made meals made by your neighbours. Needless to say, the meals are often tastier - and cheaper - than you would get in a take-away restaurant. The service is pretty popular already, chances are high to find a match.
CARPOOLING - HITCH A RIDE & SHARE TRAVEL COSTS
There is several services where you can announce free seats in your car for people to grab, or where you can look for a ride on other people's cars. A very good way to share travel costs, get company and lower the ecological footprint of driving. Try carpool, roadsharing or carpoolworld.
CAR SHARING - INSTEAD OF OWNING A CAR, JUST USE IT WHEN YOU NEED IT
Many of us do not use our cars so often, still we tend to think that owning a car is equal to having an access to a car. Well, it is not. In fact, you may have a car sharing spot almost as close to you as your garage. If you use car only once a week or once a month, it is worth considering changing into a membership of Cambio or Autopia. By car sharing you will save in all expenses related to owning a car - buying it, fixing it, taxes, garage, tyres - you name it. A new initiative in Antwerpen is Tapazz, where you can also enlist your car to make more use of it when you do not need it yourself.
FIND ALTERNATIVES TO TAXI'S
Uber is a smartphone app that connects drivers with people who need a ride. Founded in 2009, Uber now helps tens of thousands of people around the world earn income as drivers. Not available in Belgium at the moment, but you can use it while abroad. In Brussels a new quite similar service has started during the summer. It is worth to check.
HAVE A HOLIDAY AT SOMEONE'S HOME - GET INCOME ON YOUR SPARE ROOM OR HOME
A very popular way to find and offer accommodation to travellers is couch surfing. You stay with a local or welcome someone in your home. Simple and a good way to get to really see a glimpse of how the people live in your destination. Yes, it will definitely help you keep your travelling budget down too.
You most probably heard of the fast-growing Airbnb service already. With this service you can list in your room or home for tourist to book. When you travel, check in what they have in stock at the area, it may well be you would get a more personal place to stay than in a hotel. Especially a good bet in big cities, where quality of hotels may be a bit low for what you pay for.
You can also take care of someone's home during their holiday or make sure all will be ok at home with Woningoppas.
You can also volunteer in an organic farm almost in any country of the world, check the opportunities at http://www.wwoof.net.
FIND OUT MORE
Needless to say, there is much more ways to share out there, these are just a few examples to start.
Below you can see an infogram of the most common sharing economy initiatives active in Flanders. To see it detailed go here.