This is a reminder of two critical concepts for the coming years:
1. Money is not a goal; it is a means of accomplishing something. While having more money means you can purchase the goods or services you want, there are often other ways to accomplish the goal.
2. Buying stuff is not the only way to accomplish something.
Here’s a look at how to leverage other methods of getting your needs met and your wants fulfilled.
Zipcar just commissioned a study on the sharing habits of Millennials, showing that they are more willing to share not just cars, but a wide range of resources, than their parents and grandparents.
That may be true of the majority culture, but there are plenty of us older folks who know a good thing when they see it. I’ve been lifelong practitioner of this sort of approach, and a public advocate all the way back to at least 1995, when I published my fourth book, The Penny-Pinching Hedonist. I’m turning 55 on Saturday, and here are some among many sharing experiences I’ve had over the years:
- As a college student in Yellow Springs, Ohio, 1973-76, I became aware of a mostly Quaker community called The Vale. Instead of everyone going out and buying a lawnmower, they pitched in and bought a communal tractor.
- In 1990, when laser printers cost several thousand dollars, I organized a co-op and brought in a bookstore owner, a community activist, and a magazine publisher to share the costs of purchasing one (it lived at my house, since I organized it).
- As a member of Servas since 1983 and Couchsurfing since 2009, I’ve shared my home with strangers traveling through, and received hospitality form others on three continents.
- My neighbors, a Republican mainstream farm family, constantly drive each other’s vehicles. The question seems to be what’s the best car, truck, or tractor for the task, and not who owns it.
- Two decades ago, I was on the board of a group called Homesharing in Hampshire County: a mainstream social service agency that matched up people with extra space in their homes (often elders in need of both companionship and home/property maintenance) with people who needed a place to live.
- Thirty years ago, I lived in a community in West Philadelphia (a place with good public transit), where three or four cars were shared among about 120 people, as needed, and users paid a small fee per mile to cover costs. When we needed to make a supermarket run or fill our water jugs (we all hated the municipal water, so we self-bottled 50 gallons at a time at a spring in the next town), we borrowed one of the communal cars. Most of this community lived in group housing: six or eight people sharing a big old Victorian. It worked out very nicely.
- For a decade at least, Freecycle has provided a formal structure to get rid of stuff you no longer need by passing it on to someone else, or to get something you need without having to buy it.
The article, in The Atlantic, also linked to a cool website (and concept) called Collaborative Consumption, which may be increasingly important as we try to turn the world green.