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Thanks for Sharing - Book Review

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

As part of the “Second-Hand September” campaign, Isla Stubbs reviews Thanks for Sharing by Eleanor Tucker, first published in April 2023. The book covers the concept of the sharing economy, and what each of us can do to help the planet, save money, and connect with others. Check out your local bookshop, or order from Waterstones here.

If I’m being completely honest, I must admit that I felt a sense of shame whilst reading this book. I like to think of myself as an avid environmentalist, but I knew very little about the sharing economy before I read this book. In fact, I had never even heard of the phrase “sharing economy”. Nevertheless, I always welcome the opportunity to expand my knowledge, especially if it means contributing to our planet’s wellbeing (whilst saving a few quid along the way).

To summarise, the “sharing economy” is an economic system that relies on collaboration, as individuals and businesses share resources, services and goods with one another predominantly through online platforms and technology. Rather than the traditional system of ownership, the sharing economy instead favours temporary access to use these resources. While it may seem like a recent development thanks to various apps, the sharing economy is not as novel as it first appears. Eleanor talks to a variety of experts who describe to us examples of where humanity has been sharing in this way for hundreds (if not thousands) of years.

Throughout this book, Tucker embarks on a “year of sharing”, taking the reader along with her as she volunteers to be the guinea pig in this experiment. She describes her personal experiences in a fun and captivating manner, whilst addressing both the pros and cons of the various aspects of the sharing economy, exploring everything from food and clothes, to cars, skills and even experiences. Tucker encourages the reader, as well as her own family, to rethink their consumption habits in order to embrace a more sustainable and community-oriented way of life.

Image Credit: Crew on Unsplash

As someone who was completely unfamiliar with the sharing economy, I was pleasantly surprised to have already gotten involved! In Tucker’s first exploration of “sharing”, she starts with food, and I am happy to find out that the app “Too Good To Go” makes an appearance in these pages. It actually reminded me that I hadn’t used it since being in my new flat, and being just a stone’s throw away from a Couplands Bakery, I decided to pause my reading to order a “magic bag”. This was the extent of my sharing experience, and the subsequent pages unveiled the wealth of opportunities I had yet to discover.

Example of what you can get in a surprise Too Good To Go “Magic Bag”. Image Credit: Dr János Korom.

As a student writing for a student magazine, I can appreciate that most of you reading this will be on a tight budget. This is why I particularly recommend the chapters focusing on sharing larger household appliances, as well as even more substantial items such as cars and tents. Student accommodation is often limited on storage, and so if, on the unlikely off-chance, you wanted to spend your limited money on a fancy carpet cleaner (rather than, lets say, vodka), where are you even going to store it? For items you might need, but maybe use once per year, this is a fantastic alternative to forking out both money and storage on something you barely use. Essentially, you “rent” an item from someone for a set period of time, and return it. However, in this economy it is referred to as “sharing” as it is peer-to-peer, rather than renting off of a large corporation. This is often cheaper, and can heighten the sense of community which can quite often be lacking as students tend to not know their new city quite as well as their home town.

This can even be extended to large objects like cars, as Tucker explores in the second half of her book. Cars are super expensive to buy, let alone run, so no wonder very few students have one. And, for the most part, students don’t need one as you are usually in a city with good public transport and cycle paths. However, if you quite like to adventure into the countryside with friends, you soon realise that this can be quite impossible without a car. In this instance, you could instead “borrow” someone else's car for a day or two and drive out with some friends to your local national park. It is already a cheap sharing activity, and if your friends are pitching in for the “sharing” and fuel, it is a fun idea that can get you out of the city and reconnect with nature, whilst also being good to nature.

One of my favourite features of the book is the summarised guide to sharing at the end of each section. Here, you are provided with a list of apps (available in the UK, USA/Canada, and Australia) for each type of sharing, facilitating an effortless transition from theory to practice. It also provides a list of “dos and don’ts” as a helpful summary of the previous chapters, making it easier to work out what will and won’t work for you - everyone is different!

Eleanor Tucker’s writing is warm, relatable and sprinkled with humour throughout, making it very accessible to a wide range of readers. Her deep research and knowledge of the sharing economy are evident throughout the book, providing credibility to her insights and recommendations. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to do their part to help the planet in a way you might not have thought about before. I will say that as the “sharing economy” is still growing, a lot of these apps will only be useful in cities where it is more established, where many people are already using these apps. Although it is to be expected that it will be less available in places with lower populations, it is important to bear in mind if you live in a more rural location. If you’re interested in reading this book, and would like to read an extract focusing on clothes in the sharing economy, check it out here!

About the Author: Isla Stubbs (she/her) has graduated from The University of York with a BSc in Environmental Science. She has now started the first year of her PhD in Ecotoxicology, continuing at York.

Disclaimer: Second-hand September is a campaign run by Oxfam. WILD Magazine is not affiliated with Oxfam in any way, and views shared may not reflect those of Oxfam.

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