Why swap?

There are many reasons to start sharing and swapping with each other. To put it in very few words, it’s good for people, the planet and profit.

A lot of people are caught up in the way we shop today. Many follow fashion, go for the cheap items and end up buying more things than they need. Many people have things lying around that they once used, but outgrew somehow. Toys, clothes, books, music – even furniture. What often happens is people clean out their closets and basements, they’re so in the mood to get rid of things that these things just end up in trash. It’s just easier that way. Some give to charity shops, but others feel “Why would I give, when I don’t get anything in return?”. Some people keep things for years because they’re too good to give away to a charity (they feel), or have sentimental value so they’re waiting for the right person to give it to, someone who will value and appreciate their old belongings!

For whatever reasons people have, facts are that MANY useful things end up in trash – while the same people go and buy new things, and others aren’t able to buy what they need for their family.

At swap markets people save money, whether they are rich or poor. They get to see who picks their things, how happy they make other people with their generosity, and get to go “shopping” for free in what others have brought. The fortunate might bring a lot, and take less. The less fortunate bring a little but find a lot they can use. The experience of sharing openly makes the event very social, generous, giving and exciting to take part in. It builds trust to see that it can actually work to say “give what you can, take what you need.” Very few people force themselves on the atmosphere by hoarding and grabbing things from others, and usually those people are seen to the door quite quickly. Swapping builds a community of sharing, and EVERYONE can contribute. A good side-effect has been that some who considered themselves shopaholics got their fix through swapping. And when they brought home too much, they could just swap it again the next time.

Almost needless to say, swap markets save resources. Things can be swapped till they’re completely used up. People buy fewer new things. And many people start reflecting on the overproduction, overconsumption, how they take part in that system and how they relate to things and their value. Some tell us that these reflections start altering behaviour. Some stop throwing away good things and keep a little box under the bed or in the closet, where they put things they no longer use. When it’s full, they bring it to a swap markets. Things which would otherwise be thrown away.

So yes, we save some waste. Some tonnes here and there at every swap market. This might not be a lot in the grand scheme of things, but that’s because most people know nothing about hidden waste. It takes 10.000 liters of water for the production of just 1 pair of jeans. How many pairs have you bought in a lifetime? If we throw good jeans away instead of giving them to someone, these people will most likely buy new ones. It’s the same with everything you own. Your LCD TV leaves a trail of 0.5 ton trash before it enters your living room. Your cellphone 26 kg. I could go on. We really need to buy less, swap more, repair things and when we do buy – get something of quality.
Save so much money! Really! If you only bought 40% of the clothes for you 3 kids, how much would you save? If you rarely bought new books? If those pretty shoes you only used once for that special event were free? And what would you do with the money saved? I hear people spend money on better food with more organic and fresh ingredients, that they can go out a bit more and see a movie or pay off their student loans faster. Money can’t buy you freedom, but most people would have a little more peace of mind if they could keep a saving rather than count the credit cards.
On the downside, many people are afraid that if we stop buying new, the economic crisis will be even worse. And they’re right. The thing is, that it will be anyway. Gasoline prices are going up. This means food prices are going up. This means land and production is going to be more expensive than ever. The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world after construction. They’re running out of water, land, cotton – everything. And we as customers will pay the higher price, while land is being destroyed instead of growing food to the fast growing population in the world.

Implementing circular economy, swapping, recycling, upcycling, cradle to cradle design – this will shake all current industries. Unless they start adapting now! Some companies have realised they can’t go on as usual. And more and more people are starting to wonder “how come a lightbulb can last for 100 years, yet the ones I buy cant?”. “How come my grandmother’s bike from the 50’s still works, but the one I buy last maximum 5 years?”. It’s simply called planned obsolescence. The things you buy are built to break, to that you have to buy something new. Your printer, bike, clothes. It was made so to boost the economy, which it did. But only till we started running out of cheap materials, and until people stopped buying because in many places, they have enough. It’s time to go back to building things that last, can be fixed and have value even after 50 or 100 years.

In that way everyone can have everything they NEED without pushing the planetary boundaries that create the foundation for a great life for human beings . And we like that a lot.

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A movement of swappers

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