Sharing is caring, as the old saying goes. When you live in a neighborhood or a community with people you want to share things with, that spirit can move like a fire through everyone. Today, people all over the world could use somebody to lend a helping hand in so many areas of life.
There are so many ways to start community sharing programs, no matter where you live, and each neighborhood has unique assets to offer. It might feel a bit overwhelming to get everything started, but it’s important to remember that you can take things one step at a time.
Reducing, reusing and recycling can take many different forms, and each neighborhood has various needs. It’s all about citizens coming together to help one another and the planet. As long as you’re doing that, you’re on the right track. Here are some of the ways you can start a community sharing program in your neighborhood.
1. Connect With Neighbors on Social Media
While neighborhood sharing programs focus on bringing people together in-person, that doesn’t mean the tools of the modern era can’t make themselves useful. Social media can be a great way to build community connections if you’re using it in a positive way.
If you live in a larger neighborhood, have new neighbors moving in or can’t meet in-person very often, starting a social media group is a good idea. It can connect people who are searching for sharing programs and help everyone figure out what resources are available and which ones are still needed.
2. Start a Tool Sharing Program
Starting a neighborhood tool shed is an excellent neighborhood sharing opportunity. While creating a program like this requires trust, a central location and a bit of work to put together, it can greatly benefit the community.
While it can help to have a few duplicates of every tool or piece of equipment — especially more commonly used items — sharing tools is much easier and cost-effective than everyone having to buy and store their own at home.
3. Start a Communal Compost Pile
People often want to reduce the amount of garbage they generate, especially food waste. One of the best ways to do this is to compost. Composting requires a lot of work, but it’s much easier when the task is divided among a larger group of people. Plus, the reward is often much better when you have more materials to use.
Anything from eggshells to fruit and vegetable scraps can go in the communal compost pile or bin, which means you can have more to use in your individual or community garden. Make sure your community posts a notice about what can and can’t be composted in order to maintain the quality of the fertilizer.
4. Share Seeds and Garden Space
Another great way to boost environmental wellness is to grow food together in a shared garden space that everybody can access when they wish. While starting a community garden of fruits and vegetables is a great way to get everyone to participate, you can also start by sharing seeds with friends and neighbors.
When you’re ready to branch out, community members can lobby local schools, government committees to find extra space for a formal shared garden. Empty lots, parks and school grounds can all provide educational and social opportunities with great outcomes for a neighborhood. Save money on start-up by upcycling everyday waste into garden containers and tools.
5. Start a Little Library
Public libraries are a great place to check out books — but not everyone has one in walking distance. Want to make books available and connect with community members? You can start a free little neighborhood library so you can encourage neighbors to read your favorites.
You can stock everything from children’s books to the classics, so there’s something for everyone. You can start with a centralized location, decorate it and simply go from there. Encourage a take-one-leave-one policy or invite those with fully stocked bookshelves to offload any extra volumes. Before you know it, you’ll have a sizable collection and lots of public interest.
6. Keep the Network Growing
Another way you can make sure your neighborhood sharing programs serve your community is to listen to one another actively. While sharing tools, gardens and books are all great ideas, there are bound to be new needs and ideas that pop up in the future.
The best way to become an effective network is to continue evolving with the needs of your community. Figure out what residents need and work to make it happen.
Start a Community Sharing Program at Home
Creating a community sharing program in your neighborhood is a great way to show a little love to the planet and those around you. You’re reducing, reusing and recycling, as well as building a community with those around you. That’s certainly something to celebrate!
Evelyn Long is the editor-in-chief of Renovated. She writes about gardening and green home improvement for homeowners and renters who want to embrace eco-friendly living
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