The sharing economy

In my closet, there is usually a box. In that box, there are more boxes, all nested in one another like Russian dolls, but with their tops open. The smallest box is stuffed with old air pockets, used padded envelopes, tattery tissues paper and druggie-sized ziploc baggies. Why? Why, you may ask. For just one reason:

I am a hoarder.

There. Now you know. The basest fear in a hoarder’s heart is that she will discard something and then need it later. It hurts even more when I can remember having once had the perfect thing and giving it away. The motivation to keep things is this:

I have it now. If I get rid of it and I need it later, I’ll have to find it AND pay for it. How inconvenient!

This mentality, in its extreme cases, leads to the homes you see in A&E’s Hoarders.

What has helped me immensely in the last few weeks is the discovery of the sharing economy with sites like Yerdle.  (No, I don’t work for them. I’m just a rabid fan.) It’s very reassuring that if I give away, say, my old jewelry box, then I one day desperately need another, I can probably find one on Yerdle and “pay” for it with the points I’ve accumulated. It’s also a nice idea that something I like but never use could be very useful right now to someone else. It isn’t pure altruism though. Far from it. Here are some things I’ve managed to get for free (and their retail prices):

Crate and Barrel down queen duvet insert ($259)
Apple 85W MacBook Pro charger ($79)
Farberware roasting rack ($38.88)
Stainless steel compost pail ($22.99)
Fashy warmflasche/hot water bottle ($18.95)

I almost feel bad because the things I’ve given away were largely worthless. Like old clothes, toys and costume jewelry. I’ve always found it funny that those things cost so much at the store, but have so little value on resale. Even a $200 cashmere sweater won’t fetch more than a few bucks at a garage sale. I’m not going to bother with buying things at full retail price anymore when I can avoid it. Clothing, utensils, bakeware, dishes — most household goods, and even some nice furniture can frequently be found for free. Why spend money to make retailers even richer? With all the money saved on these items, I can feel better about splurging when it matters to me. Like on travel or Apple products.

I also attended a Peerswap the other evening. While I did bring a sack full of old clothes to give away, what I came home with (a North Face jacket, a J. Crew blazer and button down, 2 H&M sweaters, etc) was worth a lot more. More importantly, I’m sure I’ll get more use out of my haul than the items I gave away.

I guess that’s part of the point: we have limited storage space, and limited time to use all the things we own. So why not try to give our unused things a better life? I like to imagine the rainbow slinky I know delighting a child again, like it once delighted me.

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