You alone are responsible for about 5 pounds of trash a day. Your waste footprint includes the shipping, packaging and processing of the coffee beans you are currently drinking at Starbucks; the resources used to generate the power heating your home; and the waste used to make the Sushi box you are eating out of.

We are a society guilty of the overuse, misuse, and depletion of resources. The world generated over 40 million tons of electronic waste in 2015. Sharing is a way of significantly reducing our waste. We all have goods and services we do not use all of the time. So rather than buy new, why not share?
The sharing economy is an ecosystem of people who share in the consumption of goods and services.  By sharing, participants use resources more efficiently.

Sharing Economy

Here are some ways in which you can participate in the sharing economy.

Share cars – Car pooling is the most popular form of car sharing. Car ridesharing services are springing up all over Asia. Hong Kong’s Carpool King and Singapore’s ShareTransport provide more sustainable ways of travelling while saving on car expenses, which can eat up one-third of your salary.

More young people are preceding car loans, taking shared transportation to work and renting cars through shared car services on the weekend.  The latest trend is renting out your car to someone when you do not need it. Many two car families are renting out the extra car on the weekend.

Or, you can always take Uber or Grab.

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Rent out accommodationsAirBNB is the most popular place to rent a room in your house or apartment. We have long been renting out our extra parking spots and garages. Technology has made it easier to rent out empty space inside our homes.

Swap clothes – Clothes swaps are becoming a monthly got-to-attend social event.  Children’s and women’s clothes are the most popular swapped items. More second-hand shops are also springing up. Women are now embarrassed to be clothes horses. A good rule of thumb is to remove one item of clothing from your closet for every new item you bring in. Give the extra item to a thrift shop. Not all of the ‘thrift’ boxes belong to charities. Some belong to small businesses who ship the clothes to other countries and sell them.

Loan out sports gear – Renting expensive sports equipment such as windsurfing gear or gym equipment has long been a practice. The internet makes it easier to borrow lower cost sports gear from a neighbour down the street. If you only ski a few times a year, find a cheap loan. Do you want to try snowshoeing but have not budgeted for new snowshoes?

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Give away goods – Free recycling has the potential to reduce tons of waste. People who no longer want goods place announcements on sites such as SGfreecycle. Free exchanges are the online and free version of the traditional flea market.

Rent tools – Renting tools to the DIY market is a popular service. We often need a tool such as a power tool for a special project or home repair but may not use it again for several years. Renting from individuals from peer-to-peer markets such as the UK’s Zilok is part of the shared economy model. Home Depot and online rental sites also rent tools as commercial services.

Apply for Crowdfunding – Most peer-to-peer lending meets the shared economy definition. It is a model that optimizes resources. The lender has a small amount of money to loan, and the borrower needs a small amount of money at a price lower than traditional bank loans. Donating money you do not need to others in need is charity, but also an efficient allocation of resources.

Not all shared services support the shared and sustainable economy. Online sites and apps are increasingly being used to bring buyers and sellers together. Uber is an example. The taxi app is selling cheap transportation when cars are not needed by their owners, but is the driver’s service a shared service? The shared economy is about sharing goods and services when you do not need them, thereby more efficiently allocating and using resources in a community.

Much to the dismay of French restaurants and the restaurant union, the latest shared economy service is meal-sharing. French hosts cook a meal for travellers who want to have an authentic French dining experience. VizEat hooks up gourmands across the globe. Restaurateurs argue it is a commercial business rather than a shared service.

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C.E.O @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is passionate about finance, education, women empowerment and children’s issues. Anna has been featured in CNBC, Forbes, The Straits Times, Business Insider, INC and The Peak Singapore. She was nominated and selected for FORTUNE Most Powerful Women conference in 2016 (Asia) and 2015 (San Francisco, Next Gen). Anna has 10 years of experience in the financial sector and is currently a Director in Tera Capital. Her previous work experience includes positions at Citigroup, United Overseas Bank, a regional role in Business Monitor and a boutique private equity firm based in Shanghai. She graduated from Singapore Management University (Finance and Quantitative Finance).