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New Year's Resolution: Waste Less by Sharing More

“We teach young children to share, but as adults we abandon selflessness in our quest to conquer the world.”

greenies_0112_ShareIf you want to adopt a zero waste life style, you don't need to remodel your home or invest in greener gadgets. The easiest way to limit your negative impact on the planet, while supporting people and businesses that want to do the same, is to embrace the concept of sharing in every aspect of your life.

We teach young children to share, but as adults we abandon selflessness in our quest to conquer the world. But the past few years have shown that selfish, greedy tactics lead to financial and ethical ruin. Collaborative consumption is a new way of living in which access is valued over ownership, experience is valued over material possessions, and "mine" becomes "ours" so everyone's needs are met without waste.

If you're interested in saving money, reducing waste, supporting socially responsible companies and reconnecting with your friends and neighbors, here are some resolutions to consider in 2012.

Share Transportation

If you live in an urban area, services like ZipCar, Relay Rides, Getaround, Just Share It, and Spride can connect you with an efficient car for short-term use. If you're just looking to share a ride or split the gas costs of a road trip, Zimride, GoLoco, and eRideShare can help you find a car that's traveling in the right direction.

Share Books, Music, Games & Movies

What's the best thing about your favorite book: keeping it on a shelf or experiencing the story contained within? Once we've read, listened to, played, or watched our favorite piece of media, it usually gets stashed away to collect dust and take up space. Instead of hoarding these experiences, why not swap them with someone else looking for some low-cost entertainment? BookMooch and Paperback Swap are online communities that make it easy to exchange books you no longer need for books you really want. Goozex and SwapaDVD do the same thing for video games and movies. Swap.com works for all of the above and more.

Share Lodging

Whether you're looking for an affordable place to stay during your vacation, or want to turn your empty guest room into some extra cash, services like Airbnb, Tripping, iStopOver, Roomorama, and CouchSurfing can help you find unique accommodations and experiences, as well as travelers looking for the same in your city.

Share Clothing

Are you lucky enough to have lots of clothes you don't need? Or conversely, do you need new clothes but hate to spend outrageous amounts of money on poor quality garments? You can share clothing by donating it to local charities or thrift stores, or organizing a swap event at your neighborhood, church, or school. You can also check out sites like The S.W.A.P. Team, ClothingSwap.com, Swap for Good, and The Swapaholics to find clothing swaps near you. And the next time you find yourself daydreaming about a new shirt or accessory, check out Wear Today Gone Tomorrow, Renttherunway, Bag Borrow & Steal or Fashionhire to rent authentic designer clothing for up to 90 percent off retail prices. When you're done, simply return them to the system to be enjoyed by someone else. And if you've got a family, use ThredUp to swap children's clothing and toys with other parents.

What other services or online communities do you know of that facilitate sharing? Share them in a comment!

Beth Buczynski is a freelance copy writer and environmental blogger. She holds a Master's in Public Communication and Technology with specialization in Environmental Communication from Colorado State University, and is passionate about leaving this planet in better shape than she found it.

Photo credit: By opensourceway

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