Eleanor Tucker’s book, Thanks for Sharing, describes her journey to buy as few new things as possible through the sharing economy, from food to furniture, and from space to skills.

I’ve been part of the ‘not buying new’ movement since I was a child, albeit quite without realising. School uniforms were worn and passed around or bought and sold at secondhand uniform sales. Toys and books were passed on to younger members of the family. Furniture was gifted when siblings moved on and moved out.

Cutting waste is now a more conscious decision. I’ve been involved with Freegle since its early days, passing on anything and everything from a Betamax video player to a vintage sewing machine. I’ve gained a lot of space and some lovely and useful things and met some brilliant people in the process. The idea of the sharing economy, where things are shared and returned through smartphone apps and websites, is the next logical step, and reading Tucker’s book has been an opportunity to find out more.

In her book, Tucker takes us through a whole year as she experiments with different apps on our behalf. The book is divided into two parts. The first covers the sharing of smaller everyday things such as food, clothes, pets, household items and furniture. The second talks about sharing transport, space in homes and offices, travel, skills and experiences.

At first I found the structure of the book a bit disjointed, which broke the flow for me. But as I piled further in, I realised that rather than seeing it simply as a textbook, I needed to read it as the narrative of Tucker’s own story and experi-ences, mixed with the history and philosophy of sharing. It’s also a guidebook to a new way of living: each part ends with useful pointers to sharing, summarising the dos and don’ts of the process, and the book also includes suggestions for apps and websites in the UK, US, Canada and Australia.

I think I would have liked it to be a bit more practical, but it’s full of great stories and gentle humour about how her family takes to the new approach to life, and about the people she meets, the clothes she wears, the dog she walks and the places she goes to for the things and experiences she needs or wants. Not every interaction is straightforward, especially the journey to get a carpet cleaner, a “beast of a machine”, and the experience of office sharing. However, Tucker does end the year with cleaner carpets, skills in repotting plants, and a stunning wardrobe of rented clothes.

There are a number of takeaways from the book that I really liked. Sharing means that underused things get more use, so fewer things need to be manufactured. It’s a way to try before you buy for bigger and more expensive items. And finally, it connects and empowers people and builds (or rebuilds) communities.

Reading the food section reminded me to look at the Too Good To Go food app, which has been languishing (unused) on my phone. As a result, last night I picked up a ‘magic bag’ on the way home from a meeting. Amongst other things, it included a bag of vegetables, some cheese and jalapeño sourdough bread that was amazing with poached eggs, a bag of potatoes that will last me the next week or two, and a bag of chillies that I’m passing on to a friend.

Thanks for my supper, Eleanor!

Thanks for Sharing by Eleanor Tucker. Aurum, 2023. ISBN: 9780711282186.

Suzanne Elvidge is a freelance writer and wrote the Christian Aid eco column. She has managed Freegle groups in Derbyshire.