Appliance sharing is an old concept, as plenty of people have gone next door to borrow the neighbor’s lawnmower, or borrowed a saw or another tool for the day. The limitation on traditional appliance sharing was that it usually involved your direct neighbors, or your close friends. Searching out people who would be willing to loan out appliances and tools was a challenge, and lenders needed to have some confidence that they would get their machinery back.
The traditional sharing model for a larger community is the library. Libraries are willing to lend out items to their members, some of which they may lose, because they can charge fines, and often receive government support or private donations. A tool library uses a similar subscription model, and uses the money it collects to purchase the tools. In 2011, appliance sharing organizations were helping consumers share their own home goods. With collaborative consumption, everyone can operate their own library.
Treehugger reported the introduction of a kitchen appliance library in Portland. Sharing kitchen appliances can be very useful because a cook may only need an appliance to prepare one type of special meal, so the appliance would sit around unused most of the time. A popcorn cooker is nice for home movie night, but most people don’t eat popcorn every day.
If your city does not want to fund a library, you can still share appliances without a central depot. Web applications can help you find other people who are willing to share their kitchen tools. Brain Pickings lists two of these organizations, Neighborgoods and Snapgoods. Neighborgoods displays a Google map on its website that shows where the people who are offering to share their consumer goods live, and about 10 tags showed up in Ventura and another 20 or so showed up in Santa Barbara.. Snapgoods adds social network integration, expanding the reach of the service.
Neighborgoods and Snapgoods allow their users to rent appliances, in addition to lending them out for free. Both libraries and rental services accomplish some of the same goals, as they reduce costs and reduce waste. Neighborgoods even keeps a running total of the money that you and your neighbors are saving. One issue with a sharing service is that a lender on the service may ask for a deposit, which could be as high as the cost of buying a replacement appliance.
Appliance rentals will probably not be as lucrative as some of the other peer to peer rental services, such as apartment rental and car rental sites. Shareable reports that renting out your car through a sharing service can potentially earn you as much as $9,000 per year, and room rental can get you $15,000 in a high cost of living area such as New York. Nevertheless, you can still earn a small amount of money by renting out your appliances, without taking on the risks of renting out a car or an apartment.