Joel Xu, 25, drives in Shanghai for People's Uber, a ride-sharing service. He makes about $4,000 a month – a good wage in Shanghai – and loves meeting new people he'd otherwise never encounter. Frank Langfitt/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Frank Langfitt/NPR

Our modern relationship to property — namely that it's burdensome to own, and therefore less valuable — has allowed the sharing economy to expand. Gustav Dejert/Ikon Images/Corbis hide caption

itoggle caption Gustav Dejert/Ikon Images/Corbis

Peerby allows people to share their stuff through a mobile app for free. Peerby hide caption

itoggle caption Peerby

The New York City skyline. Thomas Hawk/Flickr hide caption

itoggle caption Thomas Hawk/Flickr

Europeans throw away 90 million tons of food each year, including these vegetables pulled from waste bins of an organic supermarket in Berlin. A new German website aims to connect surplus food with people who want it. Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters /Landov hide caption

itoggle caption Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters /Landov

A man picks up a rental car in in Burlingame, Calif., near San Francisco International Airport this summer. The car was left with the FlightCar company by a traveler who then flew out of the airport. Eric Risberg/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Eric Risberg/AP

Renting out your couches — or your entire place — is powered by San Francisco–based Airbnb, which has now connected more than half a million willing hosts and travelers in more than 34,000 cities. iStockphoto.com hide caption

itoggle caption iStockphoto.com