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Can we teach our kids to share – and have them really mean it?

James Bradfield Moody

By James Bradfield Moody

It’s funny the way you find yourself saying to your kids the things that your parents said to you.

My parents used to say ‘sharing is caring’ whenever they wanted me to give something to my sister.  The trouble was that most of the time, it felt more like forced giving than sharing, to my five year old self.

But sharing is very good for us.  Not only is giving scientifically proven to make us happier, but it builds deeper links between members of a community.  Sharing things with others is also good for the environment and the wallet.

Did you know that The WWF estimates that every kilo of cotton uses approx. 20,000 litres of water?  For every kilo of plastic toys, there is roughly 71 kilos in hidden packaging, water, and production waste.  And a family in the UK recently saved over ten thousand dollars a year by participating in the ‘Sharing Economy’ engaging in all things sharing – car, food, clothing and household items.

So how can we encourage our children to realise the value of sharing?

When our first child arrived we suddenly seemed to have an entire room filled with baby toys, clothes and books.  And as our youngest (and definitely last) grew up, many of these things were no longer needed.

We desperately wanted to find new homes for all of these beautiful clothes and toys, all things our little ones had loved so much.  We wanted to find other parents who would enjoy them as much as we had.  And while we were able to give some things to other new parents, we found that working out who needed what and getting it to them took a lot of time and effort.

And it was in trying to work out how to make it easy to give to our friends and neighbours, that we had the inspiration for our social venture TuShare.

TuShare is a community where people give away things they no longer need to one another for free.  What makes it unique is that we have also built a courier system to get items from one person to another – we can now ship up to 25kg in the same capital city, door-to-door, for only $10 with the receiver paying.  After officially launching in December 2013 now, six months later, we are the fastest growing sharing platform in Australia.

But the most amazing thing is how TuShare has helped us instill the value of sharing with our boys.

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Like my younger self, Jasper, our eldest, was always a little reluctant to give his clothes and toys to his younger brother Oliver, even when he had clearly outgrown them.  As I heard myself encouraging the whole ‘sharing is caring’ thing, at the heart of it, I knew we needed to do something different.

We created a “TuShare box” that Jasper could put things in.  We celebrated the idea that this was the place for things to go to a new home. We talked about all of the benefits sharing has for making friends, protecting our environment and keeping play space free of stuff.

Many of Jasper’s things still went to Oliver, but many also went on TuShare. Now Oliver can understand TuShare, and loves to copy what his brother is doing, he is also getting in on the act of sharing.

The funny thing is that by creating a TuShare box, we have started to make reuse a habit.  The TuShare boxes in the boy’s rooms prompts us to find things that we no longer need, and also makes it really easy to keep track of what we are giving away.

So far our family have saved over 50kg of clothes and small toys from going to Landfill on TuShare.  Translate that into the raw resources used to make all of this stuff and you get somewhere around a half a million litres of water and thousands of kilograms of raw materials saved.  But the best thing is seeing our boys embrace sharing and the generosity and gratitude that it brings from friends and neighbours who have reused our items, not to mention the stuff we have received in return.

Now we just have to figure out how to stop Jasper from trying to put his brother into the TuShare Box…

From the 1st June to 5th June, TuShare is hosting Australia first ever Flash Share aiming to have 5000 items valued at over $100,000 given away for free.  Sign up at www.tushare.com.   

James is the CEO of TuShare, a social venture with a vision of creating the world’s largest community of sharers, helping get the things we no longer need to one another for free. James is the co-author of the best-selling book The Sixth Wave: How to Succeed in a Resource Limited World.  He was a regular panelist on the ABC TV television program The New Inventors and previous CSIRO Executive Director. James lives in Sydney with his wife and two young boys.

TuShare has been announced as the National hosts for Global Sharing Day 2014.

To celebrate, from Global Sharing Day on the 1st June, to World Environment Day on the 5th June, TuShare is hosting Australia’s first ever Flash Sharing extravaganza – the 5000 Shares Challenge

Our goal is to have over 5000 items shared over five days – join us and share 5 things! You can sign up to the 5000 Shares Challenge here.

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