Sharing is Good

Building on to the subject from Tuesday’s post today I want to discuss community and how building a sharing community where you live will make your life better, or why the ownership mentality is hurting us.

Children were encouraged to develop strict discipline and a high regard for sharing. When a girl picked her first berries and dug her first roots, they were given away to an elder so she would share her future success. When a child carried water for the home, an elder would give compliments, pretending to taste meat in water carried by a boy or berries in that of a girl. The child was encouraged not to be lazy and to grow straight like a sapling. ~~

Mourning Dove Salish

I learn a lot from the students attending the local university and this past week a discussion I had with one particular student aligned so closely with what I learned from Native American people that I couldn’t help but think we, as a society as a whole,  are on the right path…finally.    He commented on ownership being the destruction of our innate and natural tendencies.

Sharing a chore in the garden

Sharing a chore in the garden to help a neighbor who couldn’t get on the ground to do this job for herself.

Then my friend Dale,  shared a story on Facebook about being yelled at for using a person’s garbage can.  In Dale’s defense she saw the garbage truck coming so her trash wouldn’t have been in the container for more than a few minutes.   Her story reminded me of my youngest son and an experience he had as a teen.

My son was walking with a friend and had finished a drink.  He didn’t want to carry the container back to his friend’s home and saw a garbage can sitting at the curb.  This seemed like the perfect solution as there were no public waste receptacles along his route.  He lifted the lid, placed his container inside and returned the lid.  The owner of that particular can came running out of the house yelling at my son to respect his property and keep his hands off.  My son didn’t miss a beat. He asked the man if it would have been better if he acted like so many other people and just tossed his trash on the ground.

….I am poor and naked, but I am the chief of the nation. We do not want riches but we do want to train our children right. Riches would do us no good. We could not take them with us to the other world. We do not want riches. We want peace and love.

Red Cloud(Makhpiya-luta) , April, 1870

Personally, I would rather have someone put their trash in a can of mine than toss it for me to have to pick up that is if I  caught it before it was blown some where else.  But the reaction both in my son’s case and in Dale’s comes down to what the university student had said to me.  Those cans were either owned (having been bought) or paid for by renting from the trash company.

We put so much weight on our ownership we forget to look at the bigger picture.


Personally, I believe in a sharing economy where one doesn’t have to own everything they might need to have.  This week we have been experiencing heavy rains.  I have an umbrella left behind by a student who moved on, today another student is borrowing it to stay dry on his walks to and from classes.  I’m not going any where so it would have just sat here dry and lonely.

We can share what we have, whether big or small.

When I lived in Arizona my next door neighbor was a Navajo man who was raised with traditional values.  He taught me a lot about how far we can go in sharing.  He owned a home in another city, but needing work his house would have sat empty. Instead he offered his home to friends from the Reservation who had found jobs in that area.   He never charged them for living there. His reasoning was that he had something, his friends needed housing and it worked.  Because he was raised with traditional values he believed in sharing his home, not renting it. He felt his home was being looked after and that was a fair trade.

Yarn shared by a friend.

Yarn shared by a friend.

This same man walked everywhere, including the fourteen or fifteen miles one way to work. One day after an accident he commented that he wished he had his truck.  At this point I had known him for two and a half years but never saw him with a truck.  He explained that he bought a truck four years prior but when he took it to the Reservation to show his father, his father remarked that having a truck like that would make working his ranch so much easier.  This man had his brand new (not used mind you) vehicle for less than 24 hours but had never driven it after that day.  Yes, he did make all the payments on the truck, just like his house.

“Once I was in Victoria, and I saw a very large house. They told me it was a bank and that the white men place their money there to be taken care of, and that by and by they got it back with interest. “We are Indians and we have no such bank; but when we have plenty of money or blankets, we give them away to other chiefs and people, and by and by they return them with interest, and our hearts feel good. Our way of giving is our bank.”

Chief Maquinna, Nootka

When I asked him why he didn’t ask his father when he could have his truck back he shrugged and told me if his father no longer needed it he would call him.  To call his father and inquire about his truck would have been rude. At the time we had this discussion my youngest had just learned to drive.  I had informed my son if he wanted his license he would have to have his own car because I couldn’t walk every where I might need to go and couldn’t risk an accident.  Listening to my neighbor I felt pretty petty for how I had viewed my car as my personal possession refusing to share it with my son.   I still don’t know if I will ever reach that level of sharing having been raised with Western opinions but I like to think I get closer to that goal each day.

The tide is turning

A couple of months ago I won a book through David at the Good Human called Sharing is Good: How to Save Money, Time and Resources through Collaborative Consumption by Beth Buczynski. I’ve been meaning to write up a review of Beth’s book for some time now but today is as good a time as ever.


I initially asked not to be included in the drawing believing I knew enough about a sharing economy and thought others might benefit more from it.  To my surprise I didn’t know even a small fraction of the ways in which a sharing economy has grown.  We all know about Craigslist and Freecycle, same with seed banks and many others but what surprised me was that there was in addition to house sharing a way to permanently trade homes.  What a plus this idea is for those who are being relocated and don’t have time to sell their home.  You simply advertise your home as available and then look for a home in the area you are moving to.  No more Real Estate agents (much to my youngest son’s chagrin should this become bigger).

Half of this wonderful book lists all the resources you could ever need to share what you have and receive what you need.  Everything is broken down by subject into an easy to use reference.

(Note: all quotes borrowed from Native American Quote’s)

Let’s quit worrying about whether something is our possession and look for ways we can share.  Your actions will be repaid many times over.


How would you feel if you saw someone placing trash into “your” can?  

Do you take advantage of sharing opportunities?

33 thoughts on “Sharing is Good

  1. Pingback: Midweek Reads #2 | Goedeker's Home Life

  2. Beautiful post, I loved the quotes : ) The book sounds really interesting; unfortunately my library doesn’t have it (looking at the site I guess it’s only published in America). There’s always more to learn Lois, no matter how much we already know! : )


  3. The bit about the garbage cans just makes me shake my head in dismay. This year I decided to celebrate that I had my mortgage paid off by taking on some expenses that I previously hadn’t been able to afford – the main two being that I switched to organic meat and decided to cough up $100 to participate in the city’s composting program. (I’ll spare you my rant about the fact that participating in the compost program costs money while you can throw compostable material in the trash for free – trust me, I’ve written many-a-letter to the city council and editor of the local paper to no avail.)

    Anyhow, I compost most things myself, but I got the bin for things I cannot do myself – like bones, meat scraps (ie when my very picky fe-lions decide the current brand is not up to their culinary standards) weeds that you don’t want to proliferate in your yard or garden, sticks and branches that require shredding in order to compost well, yadda, yadda, yadda.

    Even so – there is NO WAY I can come close to filling the huge thing every week, so I’ve let my neighbors know that they are welcome to use it. I figure that as long as it’s paid for, it might as well get used. And as long as the truck is gonna come to pick it up each week, it might as well get a full load so we can keep more compostable stuff out of the landfill. I sorta can’t imagine NOT wanting people to use it… I mean, what would be the point?


    • Cat, I was wondering how your composting bin was working. Are your neighbors accepting your offer and using it? I hope one day soon we will have compost pick up but in this area there are so many farms and rural-like properties that I don’t think it would financially profitable to bother. What a dog won’t eat pigs will and the weds most just burn.


    • Cat, I was wondering how your composting bin was working. Are your neighbors accepting your offer and using it? I hope one day soon we will have compost pick up but in this area there are so many farms and rural-like properties that I don’t think it would financially profitable to bother. What a dog won’t eat pigs will and the weeds most just burn.


  4. I regularly use trash cans that have been placed at the curb for pickup because I like to pick up trash on my walks, and sometimes run out of hand room. We are given the trash and recycle cans by the city to use, and not charged by amount of trash, so I don’t know why anyone would get upset. Of course I like to walk early in the morning, so the issue has never come up. I’ve wondered before if anyone would say anything.

    My neighbor sometimes adds to our can when necessary. No problem. We all need a healthy dose of sharing added to our lives.


    • Anne, it’s good to hear from another person who picks up trash on their walks. So many people look at me like I am crazy when they see me picking up stuff.

      The situation with my son was before the trash collectors gave us a can but still who cares.

      You are lucky to live in a neighborhood where your neighbors share with you.


  5. Yelling at someone who uses your bin says alot about one’s personality doesn’t it?! How petty and mean. Good on your son.

    This post warms my heart, sharing is a big part of who we are and there is nothing we have we would not be willing to share with anyone who needs it.


    • Wendy, my son was so taken aback by his reaction because he would never have thought to drop something on the ground.

      Sharing is a huge part of my life too and like you I would share anything I have. Okay I didn’t want to share my car with my son as a new driver but other than that I’ve never laid claim to anything and acted like I was the only one allowed to use it.


  6. Sharing is common in many of the original communities all over the world and in co-operatives of various sorts, too. We need to raise children not only to share, but to take responsibility in caring for the shared items. If a group of farmers buy a tractor and share it, the costs of maintenance need to be shared and each one needs to care for it as if it were their own. Then it works well.
    Thanks for the link, too. I’ve saved the site to my favourites as they don’t have a ‘follow’ button and I already get too much email.
    ~ Linne


    • You are right, Linne, many cultures still do share and it was how things were before the industrial revolution. One of the reasons I can share so easily what I have is that none of it is expensive and most of it I found so if it didn’t come back to me I would just wait to find another.

      Maintenance is a good point and one that gets more difficult as so many things aren’t repairable, a tractor yes but a lot of other things aren’t. My vacuum has a plastic body and while I have loaned it out often when the handle broke (while I was using it) I tried to repair it but nothing worked. Since I have to vacuum from a sitting position I get a lot of exercise trying to move it around at half its original size.


  7. I have no problem with the idea of someone else putting trash in my can. Where I get hung up is the idea of someone not taking care of something I share with them.

    For example, I love to lend books to my friends, but while some of them treat them well, others return them with creases, bent corners, unraveled bookmarks, food stains, and other signs of damage. So there are certain people I’ve simply stopped lending books to, as a general rule, because I know they won’t be returned in their original condition. Is that wrong of me?


    • Sarah, I had the same problem when loaning out books but it got worse when I stopped getting them back. It did lead me to culling my collection because I had to face just how attached I was to the books that were damaged or didn’t come back. I took it really badly and realized I was treating my books as if they were a part of me, more importance than I thought a thing should ever have in my life.

      No, I don’t think it is wrong of you to expect your belongings to be treating with respect and returned in the same condition you loaned them out. I had one friend who spilled coffee on a book and instead of telling me went out and bought a new copy because she felt bad. If she had explained it, being the only time, I wouldn’t have expected her to purchase a new book but I knew I could always lend her anything.


    • Oh Sarah! I am so on the same page as you! I’m actually at the point where I won’t lend books to those who don’t respect them. And Lois, I would have accepted the accident as well…


  8. Thanks for the link, Lois! I can tell you I was quite taken aback. I would so rather see someone filling up MY bin with stuff they pick up (because I do that also on my walks) rather than leave it to litter our environment. Some people are just plain cranky. I even have people in my family who think recycling is a crock! There is just no discussing with some…


    • Dale, if you’ve read some of the comments you will see you are not alone. Who cares what goes in the bin if it’s not something that you will have to scrub up. Now if you used a napkin to pick up your dog’s waste and tossed it in without a bag I might not be real happy having to clean up poop from the inside of the can, but how you did it, no problem.

      I go back and forth on recycling. It is necessary but if my recycling is contaminated by soiled materials it will be rejected and sent to the landfill. I don’t know what happens to my stuff once it leaves my home and that bothers me. But yes, we do need to recycle to reduce creating new. When I was little we had milk delivered to our door in glass bottles, each week we would set out the empties and they would be picked up, sterilized and refilled, same with pop bottles. I think that is a better solution because there is no extra processing but alas all the sterilizing plants here have been dismantled.


      • I have been! And no, I would never use a napkin for that purpose (eeewwww).

        It’s sad that a lot of the more intelligent practices were put aside. Is it not way more intelligent to have the milkperson deliver in reusable glass bottles. Sometimes I feel that this evolution is not such a grand thing…

        You must have read that story about the older woman at the store who is asked if she wants paper or plastic grocery bags and then is accused of “not understanding recycling”? Please.


        • I never drank milk but I loved the glass bottles and my great uncle drove one of the milk trucks although that’s another story. He was also a heavy drinker and when customers called to say they didn’t have their milk yet his brother, my grandfather, would get a call and have to find where he was passed out along his route and finish it. I went along a few times and thought it was the coolest job ever.

          No, I didn’t hear about the woman at the store. Why would she be accused of not understanding recycling? There is a recycling program for both plastic and paper bags.


          • That was a fantastic article. So much was exactly like my childhood. We had one TV in the house and it was a 19 inch model. My grandfather passed away in 2002 and still had a 19 inch TV. I also remember using the push mower, I miss them, guess I’m nuts but I do.

            More people are realizing the importance, you are right. But I see it more in the youth than the middle ages. Did you see the story about the family who decided with four people in the family they had so much laundry they put two washers and two dryers in their laundry room?


          • My thoughts exactly. My apartment building has two washers and currently one dryer (one to be replaced) for 16 apartments which works out to a total of 25 people, and the machines aren’t constantly being used.


  9. Hi Lois – I would appreciate having trash put in my can instead of thrown on our lawn. Living rurally, this time of year usually requires some garbage cleanup along the fence lines. There isn’t much and what there is can usually be attributed to people from away – locals wouldn’t disrespect their neighbours like that.

    We live in a community that shares and barters and supports each other. We share trucks when a neighbour needs it, even tractors when it is needed for a project. Currently we are employing a neighbour’s son to help clean out the garden beds and the lawns (we pay partly in cash and partly by storing his fishing boat and trailer). We paid another neighbour with a tree service business to trim the trees on the property and chip the excess (lots of wood chips for the gardens now). We’ll be able to share the wood chips plus lots of horse manure to friends and neighbours for their gardens. Oh, and another neighbour came and did some emergency roof repairs yesterday when we discovered a leak during the heavy rains, It all works out nicely.


    • Heidi, I grew up along a busy street and would listen to my grandfather complain daily about the trash he had to pick up from people tossing stuff from their cars. No way I would ever litter as a result and of course my boys learned that as well. Want to use my can, help yourself. :-)

      It would be so nice if every community was like yours. We have pockets like that here. A particular street that isn’t full of rental properties will share as a result of knowing their neighbors for so long. Same here with my apartment building. We are a small group of people so we share what we have.

      I wish I were closer I’d love to take some of your wood chips. :-)


  10. Heartwarming.

    Really, someone puts a tiny piece of trash in my can is a big deal??!! We live along a road and often find random trash thrown in our garden or pick up an item that is obviously blowing around when we are out and about in town or countryside to put it in a nearby bin or take it to the next one we see, just as we clean up after our dog and carry the baggie till we find a corresponding disposal unit. For me, that’s normal, but then my granny was always very conscious about littering from when I was very small. Not everyone learns those same manners – but yeah, yell at someone who puts litter in your can… duh.


    • Swiss Rose, I don’t get someone yelling about Dale, or even my son, who puts trash in a can to keep it off the walks. In Dale’s case she had bagged her dogs waste and didn’t want to carry it home that morning. Regardless of what the trash is, it’s better in a can than on the ground.

      Glad no one has yelled at you but I hope if it happens it won’t stop you from picking up trash.


      • So I thought anyway! And I want to specify for those who don’t know that, thought it was my dog’s waste, the only reason I did put it in the lady’s trash was because the truck was coming. I would not have done it had they already passed… I would have carried it, well, where I carried it to! Way across the park to the trash bin of the park….


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