The Good Magazine recently asked: “What if vending machines became a fresh way to reuse, recycle, and trade with people in your community?” They describe in their article the Swap-o-Matic, most probably the first vending machine which doesn’t sell anything but helps you to change in your stuff for other goods. Following the simple idea of reduce and reuse, the Swap-o-Matic can give you fun new stuff without all the bad side-effects.
If you visit the Swap-o-Matic homepage, you’ll come across the philosophy behind the product and will read the following: “We know we live in a consumerist society. Every day we are bombarded with messages on TV and on the internet that we NEED something new! Though there is great pressure to consume as we follow the general trend towards an even more materialistic society, there are very real and serious ramifications of this behavior on the environment, our society, and even our individual lives. Consumerism is a social and economic state that promotes the desire for more than this already inequitable share of resources, regardless of the consequences.”
Swapping is a great alternative on so many levels. In Berkeley for example they organize crop swaps. The idea is simple: “local residents happily exchanged home-grown goodies”. That way you can put all your energy into your zucchini and will still get some lettuce out of your hard work. It’s much more than just an exchange, it’s a meeting point and people go home with new ideas, skills and probably also some recipes.
Quite similar is the Food Swap community in LA. They project brings good food and a good community together. The organizers explain: “we believe in the importance of the handmade and meeting our neighbors. Our events bring Los Angeles cooks, bakers, gardeners, and foragers together to share their edible creations, share stories, and develop new friendships.”
These are just some more ideas on how collaborative consumption could look like. We can call it swap and it makes us think of the good old times. You can exchange anything, really; some more ideas are: home made family dinner or baby-food (read about it in this NY Times article). All of it is a good occasion for a nice get-together with like-minded people. If you’d rather not meet anyone, you can always opt for the vending machine.
If you’re interested in collaborative consumption, make sure to check out my other articles on the topic: