A torrent of rainwater from a late summer storm overflows the gutter on Keara Schwartz’s house. The new homeowner needs a ladder—a long one. She begrudgingly shells out $240 at Lowe’s and climbs her shiny, new piece of equipment to nab the offending clump of decaying leaves. Mission accomplished. But having to buy the ladder bruises the Procter & Gamble Design Manager’s spirit of sustainability, not to mention her bank account. Wouldn’t it be great, she thinks, if you could go online and find out which of your neighbors was willing to lend you something you need? The 2004 CMU Industrial Design graduate lets the idea stew for three years while nurturing her career at P&G.
The rock-climbing nature-lover is provoked to act in January 2009 when the declining economy, social networking, and sustainability movement collide. For the next 10 months, Schwartz uses her spare time to think, write, imagine, design, and build ShareSomeSugar.com. By November it’s online. The idea is simple: Members register, lenders post items, borrowers search by neighborhood. Neighbors meet in person, shake hands, talk, laugh, and “share some sugar.” Schwartz describes her site’s typical members as either young people just starting out and families with basements and garages full of stuff they use only now and then. Although the site is still in beta, there are already several thousand items posted. Need a 28-foot aluminum extension ladder? Go to ShareSomeSugar.com. You can borrow one from Schwartz.