Now the mobile app TuShare is helping people share what they no longer need with friends, and browse items that are up for grabs.
The app was created by ABC’s The New Inventors judge and former CSIRO executive director James Bradfield Moody and Kohei Nishiyama (named one of Fast Company’s 100 most creative people in business) and launched last October.
The pair designed TuShare as a marketplace for free items, using social networks to allow members to share only with friends if they desire, and creating a cheap recipient-pays delivery service, the technology for which is patented. The app also allows users to create wish lists, alerting them when items become available. With enough items currently listed on the site to “furnish an entire house from scratch”, the alert tone must be buzzing constantly.
All this helps give consumer goods a longer lifespan – perhaps the best form of recycling there is – as well as allowing people to declutter their lives. It saves money and keeps usable items out of landfill. But wait, Moody says, there’s more – the company is also partnering with like-minded NGOs to help spread the word.
“TuShare has a partnership with 1 Million Women, a great environmental NGO,” he says. “1 Million Women have already got 450 of their members using the site.”
He is also making personal connections via TuShare. “I have already gotten to know some of my neighbours better as a result of giving baby items to them via TuShare,” he says, adding that a member in Sydney has become friends with a Brisbane-based user due to their sons being similar in age and being able to share clothes and toys.
TuShare is not the only initiative moving into a space that was once purely the domain of flea markets and op-shops. The Salvos have joined forces with eBay to create an internet shop, and Perth-based start-up Op Rock allows buyers to get their fix of a curated collection of clothing at any time of day or night.
But the Op Rock team recognise that some people still prefer a good old-fashioned rummage in real time, so they’ve created the Op Rock app, which offers discounts for users who share photos of their op shop finds with Facebook friends. “We wanted to ‘socialise’ the idea of op shopping, drive traffic to our website and make op shopping fun for everyone, not just dedicated op shoppers,” says CEO Osric Powell. The app also lists 1600 op shops around Australia – a dream come true for road trippers looking for bargains.
If you don’t fancy driving all over the nation in your hunt for great deals, Reverse Garbage in Sydney or Brisbane are huge, happy hunting grounds for creative, eco-conscious types seeking to reuse discarded items. In Melbourne, Resource Rescue offers a similar service. The Not-For-Profit group established by Peter Van Os accepts donations from corporations and individuals which can be used for art and craft projects. With over 800 different product lines, the group’s main target is children at schools and childcare centres but its bagfuls of items for only $25 make it equally popular with families and individual artists.
Ultimately though, recycling’s feel-good factor comes not from the sale or even from helping the environment, but from the social connection, says James Moody, who cites scientific studies that show giving makes humans happy.
“My personal favourite story from TuShare is something that happened before last Christmas,” Moody says.”I gave away some kids’ toys, and the recipient was amazingly grateful. She also told me that she was going to wrap up the toys I had given to put them into her son’s stocking. So not only did I manage to avoid landfill and clutter, but I was also a true secret Santa for a little boy.”
And the clincher? “I since found out that his name was James as well.”
Leeyong Soo is a freelance writer and blogger.