Sorry for the reference to the 1970’s Saturday kids’ show (revealing my age here). As the sub-title of my blog is about ‘spreading the love of all things…swapped’ I thought it was time I tackled the topic of swapping.
The dictionary’s definition of a swap is ‘to trade or exchange something for another’ which I think neatly sums it up. I really like anything that doesn’t use money. I love schemes that show there is an alternative to coin-based transactions, even in the 21st Century.
Below are some of the swaps or exchange schemes that I’ve been involved with over the past few years.
A number of parents in our village operate a Babysitting Circle. Basically when you need a sitter you call one of the parents on the list and book them to sit (if they’re available). The parent who babysits then receives a number of tokens at the end of the session: one token per half hour, or ‘double pay’ for sitting before 7pm or after midnight. This is a great way to afford to go out but there does have to be commitment from every member to a) babysit and b) go out! Otherwise one person ends up with loads of tokens they don’t get round to spending. Oh and another downside is that because we are all friends we sometimes get invited to the same parties and no one can get a sitter…
Read It Swap It
I became a member of this book swappingwebsite a few years ago. It worked really well when I needed to get hold of a book for my Reading Group and, likewise, get rid of it when I’d finished it. Basically you register and then list those books you’re happy to swap. People will contact you if they want a particular book (and vice versa) and you can choose from their list of books. You then swap by post: each member pays postage for the book they send.
Clothes Swap Party/Swishing
I have organised a couple of these events for friends (see here about the swap I did last year). To call it ‘swishing’ is far too glamorous. The rules for my swaps are simple and I try to avoid asking for money (although the last one I ran asked for donations to a couple of local charities). Whereas Swishing Parties can stipulate your bring a number of items of a certain value I just ask for donations of clothes and accessories beforehand. Hence my house can start to look like a second-hand clothes shop. On the night everyone comes along to the venue, browses, tries on clothes and then takes them home. It’s a great way to sort through your wardrobe and pick up new items to wear, without costing a penny.
We also make use of a local DVD exchange shop where we have picked up some good box sets, watched and then returned. This has been a great way to try out a few tv series which we wanted to see without committing to buying them (or subscribing to Sky).
I’m also a member of a few online sites and forums where you can offer items to sell, swap or give for free. Through one of the forums (the wonderful Green Parent Magazine) I was able to swap some unwanted craft materials in exchange for Christmas themed fabric last year.
There are some other websites that I would like to explore further which encourage particpants to exchange – or lend – goods, services or time including the UK based Streetbank, the international Timebanking scheme and the facebook-driven Buy Nothing Project. These schemes also emphasise the community aspect to swapping, sharing or lending. That is through taking part you get to know your neighbours or the people in your town. This requires more commitment than just posting a book but the social benefits from swapping are even greater.