The new sharing economy that took rise in the mid 2000’s has introduced people to the concept of gaining goods, housing, and services through exchange instead of spending money.
According to a 2014 study conducted by PWC, 44 percent of the participants surveyed said they are familiar with the sharing economy. After taking the survey, 72 percent of the participants said that they would become involved in the sharing economy within the next two years.
Today the sharing economy is partnering with the tech industry to create different sharing communities that anyone can access on the web or on their smart phone. One of the leading sharing environment companies is Airbnb, a site that allows people around the globe to offer their homes for tourists to stay in at a chosen price. According to the PWC survey, Airbnb averages 425,000 guests per night.
With the nation’s growing interest in the sharing economy, below are five sharing apps and websites that will save you money, and serve as a gateway to the new economy that claims to be built upon community.
Bay Area Community Time Bank
Founded in the ‘80s, 2013 Humanitarian Award winner Dr. Edgar S. Cahn created the Time Banking system during his stay at a hospital while recovering from a heart attack, according to the MI Alliance of Time Banks. The Time Bank system was initially conceived as a solution to the current government spending on social welfare. In 1987 at the London School of Economics, Cahn reasoned that this new currency could be sustainable, and he later began Time Banking in America.
Today there are over 461 Time Bank communities around the globe. People create online accounts to their local Time Bank, and can then socialize with other members and choose from a wide array of different services that each member offers. The Bay Area’s Time Bank, Bay Area Community Exchange (BACE), has over 600 members.
BACE member AZ Zaidi says that Time Banking has not only saved him money, but also introduced him to a world of different people.
“It was mind-blowing to see that I could connect with a totally new demographic of people on types of services or offers or requests,” says Zaidi.
BACE holds meetings on the first Wednesday of each month at the Omni Collective.
If you ordered too much takeout and can’t finish your whole meal, instead of throwing it in the trash one can now give their leftovers to a hungry person in the neighborhood. Two college roommates, Bryan Summersett and Dan Newman, invented the app Leftover Swap, which launched in 2013 in response to food waste . With this app, people no longer have to toss out their extra chow mein. Now they can take a photo of whatever leftover food they have, and post it for other account members to see. People within the same geographical vicinity can offer to trade food or give food for free.
The goal of this website is stated in the name. Barterquest is a website where users can post from their computer or phone any unwanted items, real estate, or services that they want to trade in exchange for points or needed items. Founders Dr. Paul Bocheck and Michael Satz created the website in 2009 as a way for people to save money in the struggling economy and build communities within their cities that can financially support each other.
Founded in 2004 by a group of traveling students who were looking for a place to crash in Iceland, Couchsurfing is a website and app that travelers around the world can use to connect with locals and spend a couple days in their home.
Unlike Airbnb, Couchsurfing focuses on pairing foreign travelers with people who know their town like the back of their hand, and can guide visitors to local hotspots and gems. In addition to connecting visitors, Couchsurfing also hosts weekly meet ups at local bars and coffee shops for other Couchsurfing members in the area to connect. Today there are an estimated 10 million members and couches are opened up in over 200,000 cities.
Beginning in 2011, Poshmark is an app and online site that gives women around the world a platform and market to swap and sell used clothing. Founder Manish Chandra was given inspiration for this idea after hearing his wife constantly complain about having nothing to wear when she had a closet stocked with new clothes. Poshmark representative Bita Khalenghi says that the amount of Poshmark users has rapidly grown.
“Over the past three years, Poshmark has become the largest peer-to-peer fashion marketplace with millions of users and over 700,000 closets open for sale,” Khalenghi says.
Today Poshmark is one of the largest sharing companies in the world.
“Over $2 million worth of fashion inventory is uploaded onto the marketplace every day, and over 10 million items are for sale from over 5,000 fashion brands,” Khalenghi says.
So if you’re in need for some extra cash, or just want a change in your wardrobe, Poshmark can hook one up with other fashionistas in your town and across the globe.