What's yours is mine: how to use the sharing economy for just about everything

Daily Brew
You gonna eat that? (Thinkstock)

Maybe your kindergarten teacher was right all along: we should all learn to share.

One of the biggest and most well-known examples of the sharing economy trend is Airbnb, and its a big deal. More than 40 million people have used the site to book rooms, condos and even castles in 34,000 cities in 190 countries. Similarly, Uber is shaking up the taxi industry, allowing users to summon a private car via an app on their smartphones.

Looking to cash in on the peer-to-peer market bandwagon, other startups aim to connect renters with parking spaces, bikes and tools, bypassing the traditional marketplace.

If you like the idea of a peer-to-peer economy for environmental reasons, or think you can make a buck sharing your stuff, here are a few to try:

Bikes

Bike rental services such as Bixi Montreal, a network of 5,200 bikes at docking stations around the city, make sense because you can grab one whenever you need it.

Private bike rentals sound like a bit of a logistical nightmare. Spinlister matches renters with people looking to turn a profit on gear theyre not using. Its a great idea in theory, but practical questions abound: What if the bike owner isnt available when the renter wants to pick it up? What if renters need two or more bikes together, and what about size?

The cost: In Toronto, bikes rent from $15 to $100 per day, and the company takes a 17.5 per cent cut but listing are free. They dont offer insurance, so renters beware: youre responsible for loss or damage. For example, if you get a flat tire, its your responsibility to have it fixed.

Dresses

If youve got more money sitting in your closet than youd like to admit to yourself (or your spouse), you might be able to make those high-end dresses and accessories pay for themselves with a site like Style Lend.

Unlike Rent the Runway, a corporate rental site, this is personal. Browse the site for a dress you want, and then arrange to meet with the owner to try on the dress. For that service, the owner earns 70 per cent of the rental fee, but will get the dress back unwashed (yuck). If Style Lend handles the transaction, they keep 50 per cent. Damage insurance is available for $5.

Currently, this service is only available in San Francisco and New York.

Pets

So renting a dress is one thing, but what about renting your pet? My first instinct was absolutely not!when thinking about my sweet little pup currently snoozing at my feet. But on second thought, maybe this one isnt so crazy. By using DogVacay instead of a kennel, your pet can stay in your own home or the sitters, and youll get daily updates about your pooch. Browse sitter profiles and photos, then book and pay online. The company takes 15 per cent of the booking fees for insurance and customer support, and they say that all sitters go through a screening before they start taking customers. Services are available across Canada.

People

Have you ever spent eight hours (and seriously considered a divorce) assembling an Ikea bedroom set, only to be left with three spare parts and a wobbly dresser? Now you can hire somebody capable of handling your to-do list. American sites TaskRabbit and Zaarly can find handymen, cleaners, gardeners and event planners. According to its website, TaskRabbit will even find people to clean your dirty dishes and wait in line at the DMV for you. AskforTask is another service provider thats available in Canada.

Meals

Never eat alone when travelling again by using Feastly, VoulezVousDiner and EatWith to find home-cooked meals around the world. Browse prix-fixe menus, pay online in advance (tip is included), and book a private event or eat at community tables. EatWith is available in 150 cities around the world.

Tools

Do you need to own a drill? Are you sure? For most people power tools sit unused about 99.99 per cent of the time. Instead, why not borrow one when you need it? The Tool Library operates in a few Canadian cities including Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Halifax, where a $50 annual membership to the volunteer-driven, non-profit organization gives you access to 700 tools that you can borrow.

Parking

Renting unused private parking spaces in prime locations sounds like a good idea, but HelloParking failed in Boston when it couldnt find a niche in the market. JustPark in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary allows owners to rent unused parking spaces to drivers. A search in Toronto parking found a small, erratic list of possibilities: a long-term space available for $350/month downtown on Yonge Street, and another for $6.50/day near the busy Bloor and Spadina intersection and yet another for $25 in Yorkville. The security systems in many underground condo lots may make the service difficult to implement.