Extract From Eleanor Tucker’s Non-Fiction Book Thanks For Sharing

Elle (Eleanor Tucker is a former newspaper and magazine features writer and advertising creative. She worked in award-winning marketing agencies before becoming a writer for world-renowned media groups such as the Guardian and the BBC commentating on health, society, sustainability, tech and lifestyle. She went on to co-found the first communications agency to focus on the sharing economy, then a trailblazing marketing agency specialising in two-sided marketplaces. Passionate about the potential of online platforms to democratise, empower communities and help us live more sustainably, Elle now speaks, writes and advises on gig and sharing economy models – working internationally in this space helping start-ups and scale-ups to launch, grow and thrive. She is the author of “Thanks for Sharing”, a practical, realistic and funny guide to help us live more affordable and sustainable lives.

Thanks for Sharing – extract from Chapter 1 – ‘25 bananas, in a total state’

I am becoming more experienced at food sharing, although it is not without incident. In the mornings, I head to the food sharing app to see what’s been listed that I can make use of that day. Some things get snapped up quickly, like pastries, and some things linger for a while.

Ella’s gravy granules are still there: I feel a bit sorry for them. I collect some Grated Parmesan (unopened) and a ‘British Swede’ from Joel, which is a good twenty minutes’ walk away, but I am fine with that, as it’s that time of year when the cherry blossoms are out on the Meadows, and walking down the paths is a pleasure, not a chore. I get more Pret pastries from Kim (we chat this time, we have a friend in common, it turns out), and a tin of mandarin segments from Amy, who leaves her offering unceremoniously by her gate. I wait until the street is quiet to take them, in case someone I know walks past, and I am outed on the school mums’ WhatsApp group as a canned fruit thief.

When it comes to the listing side, I’m getting used to a daily sweep of the fridge to see if anything is getting close to its Use By date. The sign on the food sharing box by the bin has been vandalised, now reading ‘PUT CREDIBLE THINGS IN HERE’. I don’t ask who did this, I am just grateful that my family is actually putting things in there at all. I list a packet of burger buns (the barbecue was rained off), a jar of marmalade (I thought it was apricot jam when I bought it), and a packet of bacon (unsmoked), because the shopping delivery brought two in error.

The bacon is snapped up by Adam in seconds. I’m starting to get a feel for what goes like hot cakes, which ironically isn’t actually hot cakes.
Some people show up on time, some a bit late, and a couple of people don’t show at all. But everyone is friendly and apologetic and/or grateful as required. Later, Joanne messages and tells me she’ll be there in an hour to collect the ready-rolled puff pastry, just in time for the
Use By date.

Joanne clearly plays fast and loose with such things. I head to the fridge to find it but can’t. Am I suffering from Male Refrigerator Blindness? Is it in fact hiding in plain sight, like the mayonnaise often is for my husband? No, it’s definitely not there. I feel a rising panic, so rush round the house asking everyone about the pastry. Jake isn’t even sure what puff pastry is, my husband is as nonplussed as he has been about anything food-sharing related (although I notice the Pret pastries are certainly not beneath him), but Phoebe sheds light on the issue: she used it for her Girl Guides cooking badge the night before.

I jump in the car and do the least sustainable thing imaginable – drive two miles to a supermarket and buy a replacement roll of pastry. I have two five-star ratings on the app now, and I can’t risk falling from grace. Back home and flustered, I have only ten minutes before Joanne arrives, and I realise the Use By date on the pastry won’t match what was in the pictures I uploaded. Like underage drinkers faking their IDs, Phoebe and I start trying to alter the date with a 2H pencil. Then the doorbell goes. Blushing and over-compensatingly friendly, I bundle the pastry roll at a slightly confused Joanne (pleasant, middle-aged, wearing a cycling helmet), triple-wrapped in carrier bags so she doesn’t start to examine it. I feel like I’ve just robbed someone. But in reality, everyone is happy: Phoebe gets her cooking badge, Joanne gets her pastry (and fresher pastry at that), and I unlock my 7 Day Superstar badge on the food sharing app. It’s a proud moment, tinged with sadness as I know that sharing forgery has taken place.


If sharing food is as old as prehistory, what about a more recent example of food sharing in communities? Historian Annie Gray specialises in British food and dining, so I ask her to fill in the gap that brings us up to the present day. ‘Well, nothing was wasted, so sharing was indeed huge: food that wasn’t eaten always went to the poor of the parish (this went on until the 1930s). The way food sharing networks worked within a large house was that a meal would be served to the family, then anything left would be recycled into luncheon or servants’ food, any leftovers would be eaten by the top servants, and then anything left from that would go to the poor.’

‘You see it all the way through history: the concept of ‘broken meats and distribution to the poor’ was a huge part of royal eating as well. The middle classes did it too, but their food tended to be planned tightly and food for the poor or needy was more likely to be cooked to order (and again, servants ate anything left from family dinners). Further down, in servant- less households – or households with no live-in help, more specifically – you also get sharing. So in working-class communities, there’s both the ‘help thy neighbour’ style of things – communities rallying round – and also the simpler shared gleaning or pig-killing scenarios. One person kills their pig, everyone helps process the meat, then everyone shares the stuff that goes off quickly, in a ‘pig’s fry’ – a mix of fried pig’s offal.’

It seems to me that food sharing in its current ‘tech’ incarnation is reviving not just what we did as hunter-gatherers, but something more recent, yet somehow forgotten – that’s not just about avoiding waste but about making sure we’re all connected and involved, so nobody
misses out. This got a bit lost when lifestyles changed, ready-meals and microwaves appeared in almost every home and we became too busy to pop next door with any leftovers, if we even had any, so we just threw them in the bin. And actually, we didn’t know our neighbours
that well anyway.

Thanks for Sharing (Aurum £12.99: paperback, e-book, audiobook) is a memoir-meets-guidebook providing a fresh perspective on consumption and community.

In this fascinating and funny book, Eleanor Tucker sets out a bold vision of how using apps and platforms to share instead of buy can save us money and lead to a happier future. From food and pets to skills and clothes, Eleanor delves into the benefits and challenges of swapping, borrowing and renting, mixed in with humour, history and practical advice as she recounts her own experiences and the lessons learned along the way.

From helpful tips and do’s and don’ts to relatable tales of family life, Eleanor shares her adventures and discoveries leaving readers entertained, informed – and motivated to make a positive change in their own lives.


Extract From Eleanor Tucker’s Non-Fiction Book Thanks For Sharing

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