Lisa Fox lived in an apartment block. So when she needed an electric drill she thought: “Surely a neighbour has one…” But who to ask? And how? The answer was Open Shed, a share model founded on the philosophy “why buy when you can share?”

Almost two years after Fox and partner Duncan Stewart went live with Open Shed, the site has 2,000 members, aka ‘Shedders’. “It’s not only using the latest gadget at a fraction of the price it would take to buy that people like, it’s the human connection. Sharing that common interest leads to exchanges of stories, experiences and tips.”

Today Open Shed offers everything from lawnmowers and chainsaws to wine glasses and picnic hampers… even $1 Wonder Woman costumes. “For many this is a new way of behaving, but sharing goods or making them available for the wider good used to be the norm,” says Fox. “Now we live in units, behind fences and locked doors. We’ve lost confidence to ask for favours from our neighbours.”

All items are first posted online but what follows is a face-to-face meeting, says Fox. “You’ve got the security of the Open Shed guarantee and people’s feedback. But what can’t be underestimated is that once you shake hands, look each other in the eye and hand over that item, you’re no longer strangers.

“It’s a financial transaction at the heart of Open Shed,” smiles Fox, “but social transaction is how people profit most.”

Also check out:

Friends with Things

A retroactive site where people ‘pin’ their notes digitally, borrowing and sharing resources and expertise between neighbours and charging nada.


Connecting those that have it with those who need it, Givit lists the most coveted items trusted charities cry out for, such as blankets for the homeless in winter.


New kid on the block, this site is for people to share things for free. Plus there’s a door-to-door service! They will pick up or deliver any item less than 25kg.

OzRecycle, Ziilch and Freecycle

Now this is a real free market… these excellent sharing sites offer stuff FOC and short-circuit landfill.


When students need to pretty up the price of textbooks to buy or rent, this is the site they hit.


Sharing books or reading on loan is an archetypal form of #collcons. Check out the book collections and regular late night events at the City of Sydney’s nine libraries. And don’t forget to introduce little literature lovers to the excellent toy libraries at

Surry Hills, Glebe and Waterloo. See

If you like what you see, head to our Share Sydney event on 24 August, NG Gallery, to find out more about the shared economy. Places limited!

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