I'm a fan of AirBnB, the service that allows regular people to list their homes or apartments online to 'rent out' while away — I've both listed my place on the service and rested from listees abroad, and always had a positive experience. But would I do the same with my car? 


As MNN's Jim Motavalli wrote in December, the idea seems to be taking off. And according to this weekend's New York Times, "Several car-sharing start-ups, including GetaroundRelayRides and JustShareIt, are eager to connect car owners with renters this way. The companies use different formulas, but participating owners receive, generally speaking, about two-thirds of the rental proceeds. RelayRides says an owner of a midsize, late-model sedan who rents out a car for 10 hours a week could expect to clear about $3,000 a year."


And I'm thinking about it. For both logistical and environmental reasons, I only use my car three or four times a week. I combine trips to save gas, and don't have a regular commute, though I do like to take a road trip every now and then. When I travel from my town in Connecticut to my boyfriend's place in NYC, I always take the train, leaving my car sitting in the garage for two or three days at a time. All of which means that I am using my car for maybe an hour and a half a week.


Does it bug me that I'm paying full-time insurance and registration (and in Connecticut, property taxes) on a car that I rarely use? Yes. And I love the fact that by let someone else use my car when I'm not, I might be helping someone who might otherwise buy a car, meaning that overall, there are fewer cars on the road. 


Speaking of insurance, California and Oregon are, so far, the only two states that have passed legislation regarding liability if a car borrower is involved in an accident. (The new laws stipulate that the owner of the car is not to suffer repercussions from an accident involving a shared car.) The car-sharing services also provide their own insurance policies protecting car owners. 


Right now, the three car-sharing companies are operating mostly in California and Oregon, with one in Boston, but it can't be long before the trend spreads, as more of us are looking to make the most from our stuff. And with partners like GM coming on board (RelayRides is partnering with OnStar to keep track of and rent cars), it's a part of the "collaborative consumption" movement that's set to grow. 


Would you rent your car out when you're not using it, if you felt legally protected? 

Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.

Would you share your car for cash?
Most of us only use our cars 10% of the time, or even less. Maybe car sharing is a financial (and environmental) way forward.