When it comes to travel, unfortunately, it’s easier to do more harm than good to the environment if you’re not very proactive about your choices. Having that in mind, Local Champions invited Saga Briggs, founder of Doorways. I asked her a few questions on house sitting and what is it all about. Here’s what she has to say:

Local Champions: What was your motivation to start your recent initiative?

Saga Briggs: If you’re a resident who cares about gentrification in your city, there’s more you can do than protest in the streets. You can use your own home to offset the influence of Airbnb and general lack of affordable housing. How? Put up your space on a house sitting website when you travel. If you don’t find one, build one.

Local Champions: What is house sitting and who benefits?

Saga Briggs: House sitting is a relatively new part of the sharing economy. Although the oldest websites such as TrustedHouseSitters, MindMyHouse, and Housecarers have been around since 2010 or so, house sitting has only recently become an organized, go-to resource for renters and home owners who travel. On the flip side, it’s becoming a resource not only for travelers but for students, seasonal residents, individuals moving between flats or cities, and other people looking for temporary housing.

Many of us would rather make money off our empty space, so here’s your motivation: If you own a pet, plant, or other property that you’d rather leave in someone’s care while you’re gone, house sitting is for you. It’s a free exchange and a win-win between parties: sitters stay for free, and you don’t have to pay for a sitter or kennel. What’s more, pets get to stay in their own home.

LC: How does house sitting promote sustainable living?

SB: “House waste” is the empty space that remains when homes are left unoccupied by their traveling tenants. Creating more affordable housing units is a necessary part of tackling gentrification, but house sitting uses the space that’s already there. If the movement became widespread enough to impact the rental market, it could also reduce the number of new affordable units needed and help us conserve the resources that normally go into housing construction, such as wood, stone, metal, and glass.

We’re all trying to make a difference in our own small way. Using a house sitter is one way you can promote sustainable living and slow the effects of gentrification in your city.

LC: How can home owners find sitters?

SB: To find a house sitter in your city, put an ad up on www.doorwayscommunity.com. Doorways is Berlin’s first house sitting platform, and the first house sitting platform worldwide aimed at helping us live more sustainably.

Saga shared a guest post with us: How to Travel Sustainably by House Sitting.

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