Swapping is similar to bartering, and involves the exchange of goods or services between two parties. Swapping events are a means of recycling or circulating goods between members of a community.

Principles of swapping

Swapping is the exchange of goods or services between two or more parties. Unlike bartering, which can be a form of exchange where both parties are primarily interested in personal gains, swaps and swapping events are often organised to promote social and environmental issues, and/or to save participants money. Swapping events are organised by individuals, communities or enterprises, where members bring items of their own they no longer want (such as clothes, food, crafts or furniture) and swap them for similar items brought by other participants. There is no cash involved in these exchanges. Swapping events are organised for a variety of purposes, but swapping events are usually organised to discourage the disposal of usable items, and to encourage the recycling of items between members of a community. This not only saves the swappers money, but it also reduces the environmental burden of the disposal of ‘old’ goods and the purchase of ‘new’ goods. Swapping events have become increasingly popular in the UK and USA, with events organised purely between friends, others by schools, or community organisations or charities.

Case study: Community swapping events

Clothing Swap organises clothing swap events around the world. The organisation aims to promote green issues within the fashion community, whilst encouraging social gatherings and helping frugal shoppers update their wardrobes without spending too much money. Clothing Swaps are large-scale events where participants pay an entry fee and bring up to ten new or nearly new items of unwanted clothing to swap. They deposit the items with the Clothing Swap staff who sort them into styles, after which the participants are free to ‘swap’ and take home for free the items they like the most. The unclaimed items are donated to local charities. Often the events also include complimentary spa treatments, musical performances or discounted food and drink. The mission of Clothing Swap, created by Suzanne Agasi, is to encourage responsibility in fashion, raising awareness for charitable causes and promoting responsible consumerism.

See also: Swishing and Swap.com

Online swapping marketplaces

Case study: The Freecycle Network

The Freecycle Network is a website which manages a worldwide network of local gift swapping groups. The members give and receive items for free. The communities are organised online, and each member posts items they wish to give away for free, which are visible to people within that geographic region. They can also browse items available in their area which are free to take from the donor. People from within the local area volunteer to regulate the groups. The purpose of the original Freecycle group, which was founded in Tucson, Arizona, was to divert usable items from landfills and encourage recycling, and to strengthen community ties.

See also: Freegle.org, ReUseit, The Free Economy and FreeMesa.org

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