Streetbank is a global initiative that works on the idea that sharing is better for both the health of our environment and our neighbourhoods. Rather than every house on the street owning a lawnmower which gathers dust when not in use, the team behind Streetbank are encouraging people to turn towards community sharing so that we can lower waste, save money, and make stronger connections with the people we live near.
We spoke to Kim Shore from Streetbank Australia to find out more.
How does Streetbank work? What problems are you trying to solve?
The idea is simple: The Streetbank website is an effective way to help anyone find items, skills and resources to share or give away, by allowing people to see everything that’s being offered in their neighbourhood, or to make a request for something they need. Baby sitting, guitar lessons and tools are all being given away or shared through the website. The location of the member and the exact distance to their home is mapped for easy usability.
How did the idea originate?
Streetbank Australia was formerly known as Sharehood. A passionate group of people dedicated to addressing sustainability and community resilience started this not-for-profit in 2009. The Sharehood Collective had a successful history of receiving grants to run local projects, such as establishing and running a community garden in Northcote, in Melbourne’s inner north.
In 2013 Sharehood got in contact with a similar organisation in the UK called Streetbank, which is founded on the same sharing philosophy but better established. All Sharehood members have now merged with Streetbank and we’re now known as Streetbank Australia.
Why do you think people should be considering alternatives to making new purchases?
Streetbank is part of the emerging economy of collaborative consumption. There are many benefits to opting for collaborative consumption over making a new purchase, but I consider the two most important to be:
1) Environmental sustainability and climate change:
The Climate Institute reports that industry accounts for 39 per cent of carbon emissions in Australia, while land use and waste produce 19 per cent. Collaborative consumption allows you to enter into agreements for goods and services in a way that often results in no new industrial production and waste, thereby directly addressing climate change.
2) Inequality and social injustice
A recent Oxfam study reports that 66 people in the world own more wealth than the bottom 3.5 billion. And in Australia, 20 per cent of the population has access to 70 per cent of the wealth.
The sharing economy aims to invest in community-owned enterprises and focus on a value-based economy that reduces inequity and improves social justice.
In addition to the environmental and social upshot of buying less, what are some other positive impacts that flow on from people using the site?
- Social capital: better relationships in the community and improved trust between new and existing relationships.
- Innovative ways of collaborating and working together through peer-to-peer lending and the exchange of ideas.
- Improving community resilience through knowledge sharing and community support.
- Increased access to wealth for the less privileged and lower socioeconomic areas of society.
What’s your favourite story of people sharing items using the service?
My favourite is a story that I received recently in a Streetbank newsletter, showing the variety of ways people can use the service:
“Since joining Streetbank”, says Michael, “I’ve borrowed some worms from a neighbour after my poor wrigglers perished in a heatwave while I was out of town. I lent someone a spade for their garden, and I used the noticeboard to coordinate a movie under the stars in the park across the road from my house. I’m amazed and inspired by the generosity of people close by me in Melbourne.”
Michael’s story is reflected in what we hear again and again when Streeties get in touch – that neighbours are surprisingly good… and often become good friends. Not noisy or nosey but generous!
Streetbank is just gaining traction in Australia, what would you encourage people to do to help their community grow if they log on as the first user in their neighbourhood?
Start telling others around you of Streetbank’s value! Put the word out on Twitter or share our Facebook page.
Also, just mention Streetbank in conversation, word of mouth is very effective in bringing a term or idea into the community conversation.
Or if you’re in Melbourne, join the Streetbank Australia Collective! We meet on the 3rd Tuesday of each month. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. We would love for you to participate and contribute in a variety of ways.
Signup for Streetbank at www.streetbank.com