A Guide To Sharing For Every Season

It's a new year! The first page of the calendar is the perfect time to identify the things that are working in your life as well as the things you'd like to do differently.

Although times are hard, communities are more connected than ever before. How we utilize these connections will determine whether 2012 is a year of abundance or scarcity. Here at Shareable we believe that the power to solve both personal and societal problems lies within us, the people. The more we share with each other, the more abundant our individual lives will be.

Participation in the sharing economy doesn't require expensive equipment or a two-year contract, like some of your other resolutions. Sharing is easy. All it takes is a willingness to prioritize access over ownership, and experience over material posessions. 

There are lots of signs that 2012 will be a big year for the sharing community, and we don't want you to miss out on all the fun.

That's why we've compiled this handy guide to sharing throughout the seasons. No matter what the occasion, we hope you'll use this list to make it a shareable event!

Spring 

Image credit: Patrick Barber

Inevitably, the icy cold thaws, and we join nature in shedding our heavy winter coats. Spring is a wonderful time to think about growth and renewal, both inside your home and out.

Spring cleaning means many of us will be sorting through the clothes, toys, books, and other clutter that accumulate in our "dens" over the winter. Instead of tossing those still-functional goods in the trash, think about giving them a second life. You could host a yard sale, or trade them for new-to-you items on an online swap site, like ThredUP, Swap.com, BookMooch, or Goozex.

While it might be too cold to start planting, you can read up on ways to share a vegetable garden, backyard chickens, or even a cow. If you'd love to see others start gardening, creating a seed lending library is an easy way to share the edible love. Even if you're a city dweller, there are ways to join the grow-your-own movement. Think about starting a garden in your kitchen garden or on your apartment balcony, or conserving resources with a waterpod

Spring is also a good time to reconnect with your community. Think about welcoming the warmer weather by hosting a community swap meet or inviting neighbors over for a potluck meal. If you're new in town, hosting a stranger dinner is the perfect way to make new friends. 

And if times have been hard on your community, you might want to explore timebanking or consider organizing a neighborhood work group. You can also help lift spirits and improve your city by creating a bike corridor, helping your neighbors go solar, or making your street carfree.

Summer

Farmers' market: Credit - Maxilexi

By the time summer rolls around each year, most of us are itching to get outside. Warm weather makes it much easier to organize community events centered around sharing. Even with the kids out of school and vacations on the horizon, there are ways to utilize the global sharing community to turn the lazy days of summer into unforgettable experiences.

If you're planning to tie the knot this summer, this DIY guide to creating a shareable wedding will help you increase the creativity while decreasing cost. If you want to get out of town but are tired of the same old tourist traps, these travel-sharing websites will expand your idea of what a vacation looks like. And if long-distance travel is out of the question, we've got some creative staycation ideas that will help you re-discover your own region.

And there's no rule that learning has to stop just because the kids are on vacation. Think about joining a skillshare group or Freeskool where members can swap skills, and learn about topics of interest from local experts. You can also use experience-oriented websites to share food, drinks, music, etc., with talented individuals in your community and beyond. 

Summer is also the time when you'll start to reap the benefits of your spring gardening efforts. If your town doesn't already have one, you may want to start a farmers' market to generate extra cash with your produce. If you'd rather make the most of your bounty by sharing it with others, organizing a crop mob, a MamaBake food swap, or a baby food swap, will fill bellies and hearts at the same time. 

Autumn

Neighbors collaborate to tackle city issues via opensourceway on Flickr

As Summer winds down, work, school, and other responsibilities begin anew. But this doesn't mean your sharing habits have to end!

Find out how and why you should think about sharing an education as well as school transportation and and even a nanny for the kids that aren't yet of school age. Autumn is also a great time to experiment with car pooling, and explore home improvements that will help you stay warm during Winter without blowing your budget .

By incorporating the principles of sharing into your professional life, it's possible to restore a positive attitude toward your work and introduce others to collaborative consumption. Learn to promote new ideas, design a workspace for sharing, and live your values at work. If you're self-employed, attending a Jelly or joining a coworking space can give you access to a community of like-minded entrepreneurs (and get you out of the coffee shop). Even if you're working the 9-5, we've got tips for convicing your boss to let you cowork.  And if you're currently unemployed, we've got advice about finding jobs through social media, sharing your job search, and creating your own green job

Halloween and Thanksgiving are the major Autumn holidays, and we've got lots of tips for how to celebrate. Check out our guide to having a shareable Halloween and why Thanksgiving, like the commons, is a great U.S. tradition. If you feel somewhat ambivalent toward Thanksgiving, this guide to forging connections might reignite your holiday spirit.

Winter

Biking through the snow. (Credit: Sarah Gavor via Flickr)

The coldest months of the year can be an emotional and financial roller coaster. But the holidays are a great time to experiment with sharing techniques that can save you time and money. 

Avoid the holiday crowds and high credit card bills by utilizing a donation exchange, or organizing a used toy exchange between family and friends. You can also score great used gifts with clothing and media swaps.

Once the holidays are over, get a head-start on your resolution to drive less with this guide to winter biking, and update your recipe box by inviting your friends to a food swap. January is also a great time to make good on those promises to take better care of yourself. Think about committing to a Dry January, in which you and your friends abstain from alcohol for 30 days. If you can't stick to an excercise regime without a drill sargent, think about forming workout, running, or yoga groups with your friends.

And if you're determined to be your own boss in 2012, this article will teach you how to launch your startup idea on a shoestring budget. 

How do you embrace the spirit of sharing throughout the year? Please add your seasonal, shareable suggestions in a comment below!

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