Backyard swap gets new lease of life online


CHOICE seeks community sharing sites to join one-stop-shop Consumer Sharing Directory

A CHOICE review of online community sharing sites has found a rising number of swapping, sharing and renting schemes operating across local neighbourhoods throughout Australia.

The people’s watchdog says niché websites that allow people to swap and share items from drum kits to chainsaws and driveways to sports uniforms are growing in popularity due to a demand for cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternatives to buying new.

CHOICE is building an online Consumer Sharing Directory covering food, transport, clothing, accommodation and other services to help people easily access the sites.

“Sites like spaceout.com allow you to rent a spare space for storage - it could be someone’s attic or even their spare room. Meemeep.com connects people with items such as fridges, or couches that they need moved with those who are already travelling to that location.  Quiverizer.com is a site enables surfers swap surfboards,” says Ingrid Just, Spokesperson for CHOICE.

Swap and share sites generally involve the owners setting the price, bond as well as terms and conditions of renting or swapping. It’s then up to the consumer to decide if it’s worthwhile. 

In its review, CHOICE found many sites with a food-sharing or community-garden focus. Some of these sites connect consumers who like to know where and how their food has been grown and prepared, while others have been established to help people meet and share an enjoyable food experience.

“Mamabake.com helps you find others in your area who want to get together for a group cook-up. At the end of the cooking session, participants divvy up the food they make so everyone goes home with a great meal,” says Ms Just.

CHOICE says a major factor in the popularity of community sharing schemes could be population growth, mainly in larger cities.   

“Australia’s population has risen by three million people in the last decade, and most of that is happening in major cities¹. That means less storage space and fewer backyard gardens and sheds. 

“Some people may not feel as comfortable as they once did knocking on a neighbour’s front door to borrow a ladder or spare garage space to store a bicycle. Community sharing sites allow us to connect with people in our local area or much further afield – the only difference is the initial contact is online,” says Ms Just. 

When sharing, swapping or renting online CHOICE advises:

  • Check member profiles, ratings and feedback

  • Review terms and conditions and be aware of legalities on any rental or share agreements

  • Use secure payment methods

  • Meet in a public place if you don’t want people coming to your home

If you are operating or using a community sharing site that could be added to CHOICE’s Consumer Sharing Directory, contact CHOICE at socialmedia@choice.com.au. 

To read CHOICE’s report and for links to a number of community sharing schemes, go to choice.com.au/sharingsites.

¹Department of Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) 

Media contact:   Ingrid Just, CHOICE Head of Media, Spokesperson:  0430 172 669

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