This Holiday Season, Try Collaborative Consumption

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Black Friday is rapidly approaching and visions of overcrowded malls with parking spaces oh so far come creeping into our brain. Now, thanks to the social web, you can finally avoid circling around the parking lot banging your head on the steering wheel. With this in mind, we  think this holiday season is a perfect time to try “collaborative consumption.”

What is collaborative consumption? Basically, It’s  when regular people like you and me decide to exchange goods and services directly with other people instead of through more established companies and corporations.

For example, instead of buying earrings at “Liz Claiborne,” you buy earrings directly from another person who made them personally. So, if you want to try collaborative consumption this holiday season, here are few suggestions on how you can get involved in the  movement,  while  avoiding the long lines and getting your Dad another screwdriver set.

Give the gift of education

Tutorspree is a website that links thousands of local tutors, searchable by topic, with people who want to learn something new or improve their skills. You know someone who always wanted to learn French? Or perhaps they need to learn the language  as they’ll soon be traveling to a French speaking country. Type in their home town and you can get them the wonderful gift of gab.

For example, if they’re from Altanta Amanda T “a recent graduate from Georgia State University with a B.A. in International Economics and French with a passion for tutoring” can help your friend for $45 an hour. You can easily communicate with Amanda through Tutorspree before committing so you can determine if she’s a good fit for the task. After a lesson or two, your friend may be able to order dinner confidently at a romantic Paris restaurant.

Give the gift of travel 

​People love to vacation. If your loved one has always wanted to visit New Orleans, Airbnb has tons of apartments and houses for rent that may appeal to  your adventurous friend. You can search by neighborhoods, apartment styles and price points.  

Belinda M has a beautiful apartment just three blocks from the French Quarter for just $85 a night. Why spend more money for a generic experience at the Hilton when you can really live like a “Nawlins Native” in a furnished home?  It’s  a better experience for the traveler and allows Belinda M the opportunity to be a hotelier. At the same time, you’ll be able to stick to your budget while supporting collaborative consumption.

Give the gift that’s custom

So your cousin and his wife just moved and you want to get them something for their new place.  Sure, its easy to send them a gift card from Ikea, but anyone can do that.  Why buy the same old boring table that everyone has when there are so many talented people in the community willing to make something special just for you?

Go ahead and log into Zaarly and tell the local community you are looking for – someone to make a coffee table(don’t forget to name your price). After that, sit back and watch as local artisans contact you through the site offering their services. In no time, your family will have a one-of-a-kind coffee table made custom for them right next door.

As we all know, there are millions of capable people looking to earn a living and contribute to the economy. However, it can be difficult for the little guy and will only get harder. “Collaborative consumption” opens up an incredible opportunity to change the way our economy works. In the process, we improve our communities,  the environment, and add to quality of life.

Most importantly you must not forget, you can save those important brain cells lost from banging your head on the steering wheel while you circle around the mall parking lot.  Make yourself some tea and try a better way to give gifts this holiday season.

What do you think? What collabertive consumption sites are you using?  Share you comments below.

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