Sharing can be worth more than a warm, fuzzy feeling — you can receive as well as give with a number of swap sites. Here are six top places to share and save on the Web.
Give a book, get a book. BookMooch uses a point system to help old books find new homes. If you have a used book to give away, list it in the database. When someone wants it, you mail it to them (you pay shipping) and receive a point that you can use to claim a book from someone else's stash (they pay shipping). You also earn one-tenth of a point for each book you add to the database.
This service connects drivers and passengers to defray costs on both sides. Enter your starting point, destination and desired travel dates; Zimride returns possible rides and riders. The service uses your Facebook profile to try to find people who will be compatible with your travel tastes — it's important that everyone can agree on the road-trip soundtrack.
Sometimes you need an item just for a bit: lights for a photo shoot, a bike for a weekend ride, a chain saw. SnapGoods acts as an informal rental shop for gear, pairing people who have something to lend with people who need something for a short time. When you're looking for an item, you post a want ad. If you have gear to lend, list it and see who might need it. Prices can be set by the seller or negotiated.
Got an extra jar of pickles and need a can of tomatoes? A food swap is a get-together where people bring food they don't need and exchange it for food from others in their area. FoodSwapNetwork.com facilitates these meetings: Pick your state and enter a city where you want to join a swap. If one doesn't exist near you, you can start it up and list your food swap on the site.
FreeCycle could be called the granddaddy of online sharing. In existence since 2003, the listserv-style group does it the old-fashioned way: Post something you'd like to give away, and people email you if they want it. With more than 4,000 local chapters, Freecycle is likely to have a group near you. The service has an etiquette to follow, so make sure you read the rules before you post or try to grab one of the goods offered.
Empty desks waste space and money. Kodesk helps match people who have extra space in their office with workers who need a temporary home — whether while they are traveling or just to get out of their home office. Desks rent by the hour, but users can also arrange for longer stays.