The sharing economy is changing how and what we consume by providing an expanded access to products, services and skills beyond that of singular ownership. Now more than ever it has become clear that we don’t need to own everything, in fact, we don’t need stuff but rather the utility it provides. This has led to the rise in borrowing, renting, trading, bartering and swapping products and services, connecting our needs with what others already have. We’re saving time and money and reducing waste while building communities which are becoming more and more connected all the time.

It is with this new sharing paradigm in mind that brought together hundreds of avid sharers and enthusiasts in Toronto, Canada for ShareFestTO on July 16th. Hosted by the Centre for Social Innovation, in partnership with the Institute for a Resource-Based Economy (creators of the Toronto Tool Library), Studio Y, ShareTO, Social Innovation Generation, Shareable and a collective of sharing organizations in Toronto, the event was at the tail end of #SharingSpring and brought together sharing pioneers, organizations, users and those looking to learn more about this movement an opportunity to see all the exciting activity emerging in this space.

The aim of the event was to connect guests with organizations first hand who are involved in the sharing economy while supporting their discovery of all the ways we can incorporate sharing into their lifestyle. This could be as drastic as getting rid of their car and renting one instead (AutoShare), to something as simple as rediscovering how great the public library is. Torontonians are already sharing their work spaces (Centre for Social Innovation), their stuff (Swapsity), their Thanksgiving dinner (Share Thanksgiving), and their skills (Trade School Toronto). ShareFestTO was an opportunity to meet these Toronto organizations and others – such as Not Far From the Tree and the Toronto Tool and Kitchen Library– that make sharing an easy part of our lifestyle.

ShareFestTO by the Numbers:

• 400+ ShareFestTO attendees

• 26 Sharing Organizations in attendance

• 7-minutes on CBC Metro Morning, reaching thousands

• 4 published articles: Global News, CBC News, the Varsity, Orillia Packet

• 192 beers

• 30 shared kit kats

The event had far too many highlights to list, such as the Book Exchange, Clothing Repairathon and DIY firestarting workshop, but a few stand out above the rest. Share Thanksgiving gave away delicious stuffing to promote their free turkey-based matching service connecting new immigrant & host families. Site3 CoLaboratory, a member-run maker space for art and technology collaboration, taught basic leather working skills and had interactive robots for people to play with. Moustaches, boas and tiaras were just some of the props that guests took advantage of at the Scribble Me Silly photo booth who aims to empower children through the vehicle of art, connecting artists with children in family transition homes, community centres and after-school programs. And finally, one of the most encouraging aspects of the event is that they were able to get the Toronto Public Library on board, who are veterans of the sharing economy. They had lots of programs to showcase, including their new 3D printers, Dial a Story and a program that’s essentially the equivalent of Netflix for people to access videos online, for free!

The organizers wanted to keep the format simple and the event was essentially comprised of booths plus a few interactive rooms for programming by the organizations. It was quite informal, guests could walk around and talk to the organizations and learn more about them, or get involved in the Book Swap or Cherry Jam Making workshop for example. There were no speeches or panels or programming as they felt it would have been a bit too difficult to manage both at the same time and felt keeping it simple and allowing people to go about it on their own time worked out best.

The first time event was a great success and guests came out of the event with lots of enthusiasm, excited about all they had learned and wanting to get more involved. To learn more about Toronto’s network of sharing organizations, our Collaborative Consumption Toronto meetup group and more, please visit Toronto on the Sharing Cities Network.




Lucy Gao


Lucy Gao |

Lucy is deeply interested in the impact of the sharing economy, writing for various websites like Shareable and Collaborative Consumption, and hosting events to grow this movement in Toronto.The sharing