There is a widespread notion that current capitalistic Values of ever expansion is the leading contributor to global warming. While some individuals may choose to completely exit out of Participation by living off grid and purchasing next to nothing, there are other ways that you can Contribute to a low waste, collaborative lifestyle without removing yourself.

The Gifting Economy

The gifting economy is a system where you exchange goods or services without any money. You might expect nothing in return for your labors, like a birthday present or community service, or look more like a bartering situation. The gifting economy has a wide range of applications. Here are seven ways that you can contribute:

Host Couchsurfers

Have you ever heard of the website and application couchsurfers? It’s a way for people to travel to different areas and borrow any of your unused spaces. It helps low-income people and youngsters afford international travel. Another benefit is that you get to meet and form relationships with people all around the globe. Offering up a spare bedroom (or the living room couch) for a night could lead to a long-term friendship, and help someone’s dream of visiting your area come true. When it’s your turn, you now have social capital in order to meet people abroad as well!

Clothes Swap

The next time you get together with a few friends you might consider having a clothes swap. Simply take everything that you no longer wear out of your closet and bring it together to a shared location. you now have the opportunity to enjoy what someone else didn’t want any more!
Childcare Circles
Childcare costs thousands of dollars each month for many families around the US. Forming a trusted parent circle can help lift that financial burden, while also forming strong community ties.

Community Gardens

Participating in a community garden, where you might tend to yours as well as your neighbors communal plots, or even donating your own fruits and vegetables to food banks can all support healthy, sustainable lifestyles. Community Gardens can also support local pollinators and other wildlife in your area. Green spaces are always nice to look at as well!

Flea Market or Barter Festivals

Though there are plenty of aftermarket and second-hand websites and shops around, focusing specifically on barter festivals or exchanging services and goods at flea markets can empower individuals of all backgrounds. Anything is possible in this type of environment. By reaching agreements and collaborating, you can exchange services or goods for pretty much anything that you want.

Seed Exchanges

Did you know that the reason many people suffer allergies every year is because the government only planted male trees around the U.S.? Had we planted female trees, fruits would be in abundance even in the most urban communities.
To complicate matters further, organic fruits and vegetables are extremely expensive- even in large box grocery stores. Forming seed exchanges or other types of plant swaps not only supports a healthy diet, but also encourages biodiversity in our communities.

Online and Physical Free Exchanges

Why purchase when you can take something off another’s hands? There are many free exchange websites online and throughout your local community. You just have to know where to look! Try searching for “Conscious Community”, “buy nothing” or “Intentional Community/Spaces”. These types of environments often are warm to the idea of free exchanges or “free stores”. They might already have one…or you could bring the idea to their attention!

Check out sites like PaperBack Swap for your books, SharedEarth for gardening spaces, and Freecycle for everything in between.

Happy Gifting!




Creator of the slow living and sustainability blog: She is Awake and NGO founder.


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