JOIN A SWAP NETWORK
I'm not sure if "swap network" is a widely used term or if I made it up, so let me explain a little bit...
A swap network is a way to trade stuff, time, and skills with others rather than using money. It can be as simple as unloading some free stuff on Freecycle, or it can be more of a bartering system where you swap one thing to get something else in return. For example, a friend of mine gives my oldest piano lessons, and in exchange, I teach a little preschool class for her son and my youngest.
A swap network can also be a way to borrow or lend things rather than just give stuff away. Say you're a poor college student with a tiny lawn and no lawnmower, and your neighbors are starting to give you the cold shoulder because your lawn has turned into a jungle. (True story, by the way.) Wouldn't it be great to have a network of friends with lawnmowers who would loan you one for a weekend? Or friends with tools? Or a Wii? (Everybody needs a friend with RockBand.)
Ideally, you would swap with people you know, building a sense of community and friendship. You could create a Swap Network with your neighbors, perhaps through your homeowner's association, utilizing your association's newsletter or website for posting needs and wants. You would get to know your neighbors, and the stuff wouldn't have to travel far.
Now that you know what a swap network is, here's how to complete this challenge:
- Join Freecycle. This is the simplest type of swap network and a great way to get or give away stuff for free.
- Look for other types of swap networks in your community. Some cities have tool lending libraries so you don't have to buy tools you may use only a few times. Sometimes neighborhoods or apartment complexes will have systems in place for swapping books, CDs, and toys. Take advantage of these programs because if people don't use them, they go away.
- Join online swap networks. Examples include Paperback Swap, Swap Mamas, and Swapacd.
- Host a clothing swap. Do you ever feel like you've been wearing the same clothes for years but don't want to get rid of them because they're still in good condition? Spice up your wardrobe by inviting over some friends for a clothes swap. This is also a great way to trade children's clothing.
- Improve your bartering skills. Who needs money! Figure out what skills you have that you could use to trade for things you want. Are you a good cook? Can you sew? Do you play piano? At the very least, you can always babysit.
- Organize an official swap network. Get a group of friends together, set up a website or other system for posting needs and wants, and trade away. Sample ads could include:
I have a huge pile of baby boy stuff that my kids have outgrown, including an infant carseat, an Exersaucer, a bunch of clothes, and some toys. If you would like any of these things, let me know!
I am going to a fancy wedding this weekend. Anyone have a dress I could borrow?
I would like to learn to knit. Who knows how and would be willing to share their skills? Could we start a knitting group?
Would someone be interested in teaching me to sew in exchange for cooking classes?