Sharing: An Answer to Consumerism?

Here’s a thought.  When it comes to all the stuff that you have in your home have a think about how often you use it.  Is is every day, is it once a week, or every couple of months?

Wouldn’t it be more logical to start sharing, borrowing, or hiring some of the more less frequently utilised things you have around your home.  It would certainly be less resource intense and better for the environment!

Take tools for example.  When I needed a nail gun to build my picket fence around my front orchard, I didn’t go out and buy one, I simply went down the tool shop and hired one with a compressor.  Once I was finished with it, I gave it back.  It was so much cheaper than getting my own.

Same goes for when I needed an impact drill to put some of the garden beds together.  I asked my friend Jake over who had all these tools already and paid him in home-brew beer.  In fact he actually helped put the beds together, because I wasn’t sure how to use it.

There was another time when we wanted to go on a family trip.  I had too many people to carry in my Honda Civic Hybrid, so I hired a larger people mover for the weekend.  I knew that I didn’t need that sized car all the time, so hiring was the way to go for this one-off need.

Another example are trailers.  You know, the ones that you tow behind your car and use once in a blue moon.  Not only that, they take up valuable growing space in one’s backyard.  Hiring would be the logical solution as long as you didn’t have to drive a country mile to find one.

So why do people buy stuff they only use every so often or only once in its lifetime.  Well, let me take a quote from a very interesting documentary titled Zeitgeist: Moving Forward at around the 1:41:20 mark.

Many forget that it’s isn’t the good that they want, it is the purpose of that good.  When we realise that the purpose of the good is only as important as its utility we see that external restriction or what we might today call ownership is extremely wasteful and environmentally illogical in a fundamental economic sense.

As Spock would say, its illogical Captain!

So what’s the solution?

Well there are a few solutions that you could take to avoid ownership of a seldom used item.

You could even go car-less if you live in larger cities.  For instance you could use a car share scheme like  It’s a neighbourhood car sharing scheme available in Sydney and Melbourne which is much cheaper than owning a car.  There is even a cool app that helps you locate cars near you!

Why not hire tools and equipment from a reputable hire company or even ask you friends and neighbours if they have the tools you need.  At least with neighbours you can trade things for the use.



Or you could check out a site like, a not for profit business who is trying to reduce the amount of wastage and blatant giving-in to consumerism. You can even put your own seldom used item on the site and make a bit of money from home!

What about food?  Got too much of a single fruit or veggie?  Why not try using a site like  It has a map of other people like you who has too much produce and wants to either give it away or swap it for something else.

Got a spare room that you are not using?  Why not list it on AirBnB?  You might just enjoy the company and get a steady income stream in the process.

Too many clothes in the wardrobe, and want a new look?  Why not check out the Clothing Exchange.  You can take some of your clothes to an event and swap for new albeit slightly used ones, or swap online.  Its a great way to freshen up your style!

You could take it one step further and join the Community Exchange System.  It’s a community-based exchange system that provides the means for its users to exchange their goods and services, both locally and remotely.  There’s sure to be one near you.  You can even trade time and effort in return for goods without using money!

These are only a few suggestions, so why not chime in with some more in the comments section below.  I’m sure there are many more ways of sharing that I have missed!

If so, please join thousands of others who receive exclusive weekly online recaps & tips, and get a FREE COPY of my eBook, The Greening of Gavin - My First Year of Living Sustainably.


TGoG 115 – Bek’s Backyard with Bek Stiegler

Listen to the Episode Below (00:34:34)

Bek Stiegler went pretty much went from the average consumer (supermarket shopping, buying stuff she didn’t need, buying the cheapest and not caring where it came from etc) to growing pretty much all her own food (except meat and dairy), reusing and recycling, and being an extremely conscious consumer.  She lives in Melbourne on a 750m² suburban block.

She writes about her own sustainable living journey over at Bek’s Backyard, a popular gardening and lifestyle blog.

Bek Stiegler

Bek Stiegler

During the show we talk about how she went from a barren backyard to building a fruitful and abundant suburban food farm!  She loves fruit trees and eating fruit that is in season.  If there is a glut she preserves via dehydration or water bath.

Her passion and enthusiasm about growing her own food is clearly evident as you listen to the episode.  Please thank Bek for sharing her story and journey with us all.

Don’t forget that this show is financially supported by you, the listener, via our Patreon page.  If you believe the show adds value to the sustainable living community and you would like to support the show, please pledge your support at  Any pledge small or large is most welcome, as it keeps the show going and growing week by week.

Become my patreon!

And finally, do you think this podcast episode will help someone you know?  If so, help them out by sharing it using the social media buttons below.  And if you are super excited about what you have heard during this episode, pop on over to iTunes using the button under the player and leave a rating and review.

It helps the podcast get noticed in the charts and makes it more visible for others who may be interested in living a more sustainable lifestyle in the ‘burbs.  Thanks!

If so, please join thousands of others who receive exclusive weekly online recaps & tips, and get a FREE COPY of my eBook, The Greening of Gavin - My First Year of Living Sustainably.


5 Simple Ways to Get A Weird Look In Public

Being green can draw weird looks in public, especially when you do some of the things I am in the habit of doing.  Most of these are tongue-in-cheek, but quite frankly, I still can’t figure out why some of these behaviours or actions are not yet mainstream where I live.

Let me describe a few for you.

Taking Your Own Cup to the Coffee Shop

This simple act still gets me weird looks from coffee shop clients and barista alike.  You would think that people would be used to seeing eco-conscious folk take their own cups for a cup of java, but noooo, apparently it is more fashionable and planet destroying to ask for a disposable one.  But then again, I like to set my own trend.

My favourite reusable coffee cup is the KeepCup.  You can reuse it thousands of times, and if it ever breaks, you can recycle it in curbside recycling.  Try doing that with a styrofoam or plastic coated paper coffee cup!


My hope is that more people take my lead at my local coffee kiosk, partly because it is the right thing to do, and partly because some café offer a small discount off the price of your cuppa.  What is not to like about that.

Wearing Gumboots to the Hardware Store

Yes, I must admit that when I am working hard in the garden and I need something urgently, I often forget what I am wearing on my feet and visit the hardware store with muck covered gumboots (aka wellingtons or rubber boots).  You should see the funny looks I get as I am pondering over which veggie seedlings to buy, or which bag of organic manure to lug home.  It may be okay in the country, but in the urban fringe of Melbourne, it still turns heads, especially when I have just mucked out the chook house!

Travelling on Public Transport with a Climate Change Placard

This one certainly got the most weird looks so far.  Ben and I had just attended a climate change rally in the city, and were travelling back to sleepy old Melton on the train.  You would have thought that we had two heads by the ogling that we received.  It was as if our fellow passengers had never heard of Climate Change!  May be they were blissfully unaware as I was before September 2006, but really, who hasn’t heard of Climate Change these days.  Denial or what?  What’s wrong asking for action on the most single issue affecting mankind?


Using Canvas Shopping Bags instead of Plastic bags

Kim and I still get weird looks, especially from the supermarket checkout chick or rooster from this one (probably more like a groan than anything else).  A simple bit of forethought and planning to make sure that you have canvas bags if you go to the shops.  How hard is it, honestly?

The look usually starts when they (the cashier) asks “do you want a bag” and I reply, no thanks, I have my own.  Just that is enough to get a raise eyebrow or two.  Maybe it is my return look of disbelief that I still got “the look”.  It bugs me.

I wish our state was a bit more forward thinking like South Australia where all plastic LDPE shopping bags are banned and shoppers have to take their own.  It would be just so much easier on the environment and certainly people quickly get used it.

Refusing Bottled Water at a Function

This one gets some serious weird looks.  Not drinking water from a plastic bottle?  You must be crazy.  Yes, that is actually what I have had said to my face.  I told them that I was certainly not crazy and that there was nothing wrong with tap water, which I proceed to go and find.

I think it may be time to look in the mirror, because not only is bottled water so expensive compared to tap water, the empty bottles themselves are rarely recycled and take thousands of years to breakdown in the environment.  It is a luxury that is just not worth it.  Life’s a bitch with a Mitch.  You’ll know what I mean after watching the video!

 Take a look at this post I wrote about bottled water.  It is still relevant today as it was the day I wrote it.  Once you have tap, you won’t go back.

What Happens When “The Look” Stops?

I have probably missed hundreds of examples, because I am just that sort of guy.  The one that doesn’t give a hoot what sort of attention I attract when I am different from mainstream.  And you know what?  It’s okay to be different, and try to lead by example.  People take notice, then think a little bit more deeply if they see you doing it repeatedly.

You will know when green living is mainstream when “the look” stops or is seen on the rare occasion.  I am sure there are places around Australia and the globe for that matter where the things I listed don’t get a second look or raised eyebrow ever.  Now wouldn’t it be nice to live somewhere like that!

Where I live, we are not there yet by a longshot, but it will happen eventually if I have anything to do with it.  It will be a massive day of celebration at my house when it does!

So over to you.  What green behaviours or actions make you the receiving end of a weird look in public?  Oh, and Blue Steel or Ferrari don’t count.

 Post your comments below.  I’d love to read about your weird look moment!