Three ways you can embrace the sharing economy for Earth Day

The peer-to-peer exchange of goods and services builds community and benefits the environment.

The sharing economy — the peer-to-peer exchange of goods and services for everything from bicycles to lodging — is not only trending, it’s flourishing. And it’s leading to a stronger sense of community and environmental benefits.

In many ways, our culture values experiences rather than ownership of things. Take the Marie Kondo movement, for example: Self-proclaimed minimalists find bliss in a life without the bookshelf of odds and ends. In the Puget Sound, community organizations are hearing the call and creating ways to reduce waste and excess by sharing with others.

How can we support a sharing economy in Snohomish County? Let’s explore a few ideas.

Donate stuff. One easy place to start is at your local second-hand store. Thrift stores will accept and repurpose old shoes, furniture, dishes, linens and toys. Stained or ripped clothing can even be recycled at many locations. Did you know the average American throws away about 70 pounds of clothing every year? Show your support for the planet by giving others a chance to take your donated items for a second spin. And make sure to search your local thrift store first for inexpensive, fun and unique items for your home and closet.

Borrow tools. Tool libraries are another way to reduce waste and inspire all of your DIY dreams. These community centers promote equity, sustainability and good old-fashioned neighborly connections. Community members can easily join the tool library to gain free access to a wide variety of tools and classes. It’s the perfect solution for those items that you rarely use but are an absolute must for that home improvement project. Rather than buying your own hand saw, level, paint brush or lawn mower, go the sustainable route and share it with your neighbors! Tool libraries also serve as community centers for events such as “repair cafes” where local “fixers” will help you bring new life to broken household items or damaged clothing.

Connect online. Our third tip for reusing and reducing your waste is to connect with your neighbors via online networks such as Craigslist, Next Door, OfferUp or Buy Nothing Facebook groups. These online communities allow individuals to give or sell belongings to neighbors. They are great waste-reduction tools, and also an uplifting reminder of human generosity and caring for community health.

Each April, Earth Day celebrations call attention to our impact on the planet. This year, let’s challenge ourselves, family and friends to embrace the sharing economy as a way to reuse and reduce waste. It’s easy, good for the planet and a great way to help build healthy communities.

Hannah Scholes is Waste Management’s education and outreach manager. Learn more about what can be recycled at RecycleOftenRecycleRight.com.

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