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Website offers green way to share with neighbors, make friends

August 24, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
You can now borrow or lend just about anything online and make new friends in your neighborhood at the same time.

Micki Krimmel and Jory Felice are neighbors but live several blocks apart in Atwater Village. The reason they know each other is through sharing. Micki borrowed a book from Jory and now he's picking it up. So how did the two get together?

About a year ago Micki started a website called NeighborGoods.net, a high-tech way to borrow and lend, and get to know your neighbors at the same time.

"Seventy-five percent of people don't know the name of their next-door neighbor, and we're trying to fix that," said Micki. "So by connecting people -- say you need a power drill, but you don't want to buy one. You look on NeighborGoods, you see your next-door neighbor has one, and that facilitates a communication."

But that's not all. Sharing can actually help the environment.

"The average power drill actually gets used for approximately 12 minutes in its entire lifetime," said Micki. "I don't think that's the most efficient use of our resources. So by connecting people to share things that they don't necessarily need to own, we help people be a little greener, more sustainable."

Those are some of the reasons Jory got involved. So far he has lent out a commercial paper-cutter, a folding ladder, ice chests and even a set of bongo drums. And recently Jory borrowed a vintage computer mouse.

"I couldn't find this old MacIntosh mouse anywhere. And I didn't necessarily want to go and pay a high price on eBay or pay for a collector's item, and I put it out there and sure enough, people came forward and I had a lot of offers," said Jory.

Micki shares her stuff too. She figures she's saved her neighbors about $6,000 they would have used in purchases.

"I've lent out almost everything in [my closet full of stuff] at least once: my bicycles here, my snowboards in the back, even this scanner," said Micki. "The scanner I've lent out three times, the printer's gone out once. So I'm definitely getting my money's worth for these objects." And so are her neighbors.

Not sure it's safe to share your stuff? The NeighborGoods website does have privacy controls and trust features to help.

"If it's something of high value, or it's something you're not quite sure you want to share with a stranger, you can set it so only your friends can borrow it," said Micki. "For instance, my car is listed on NeighborGoods, but only my friends can ask to borrow that."

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