Our local eco swap

ladies on bikes

Ecological consciousness and fashion forward go hand in hand. Photo: ecologynow.wordpress.com

I’ve written before about the merits of swapping clothes and accessories you no longer want for “new-to-you” items instead. The three top benefits are:

  • Saving money — one of the the keys to prosperity is spending less/saving more.
  • Eco-friendly — reusing stuff helps avoid adding to the landfill.
  • Fun! — getting together with others for a good time beats solo shopping zombiedom.

But while I had researched and described how to host one of these events, I had not yet thrown one or participated in one in my own community.

Eco swap comes home

It wasn’t until the launch of our local time bank — the hOUR Economy — when I joined in with others seeking alternatives to the money economy, that I found people with a like-minded bartering bent.

One of these others — Tracey Sullivan Coltrain — had already been hosting eco swaps for friends in her home. Now she was ready to go large, to hold a community-wide event open to all local women to see how much interest was out there in trading fashion goodies with others.

She and I got together over about six weeks to plan the event. We found a space that was willing to gift the event hosting, set a time that we thought would be amenable to a cross section of women, and began advertising and alerting the media to our “Naked Ladies Party.”

And it was a huge hit!

Shiny happy people

Not only did we get great local media coverage, we also had over forty participants come. Each brought two armfuls of clothes to trade along with potluck food and drink to share (with personal mess kits in tow to avoid disposable waste).

After a few minutes of mingling, we called everyone together to welcome them and thank them for coming. Then, we set down some ground rules — this is no catty bridezilla run, it’s a polite, ladies event. We also invited attendees to get on our email list for future events. We gave a plug to the hOUR Economy, too, suggesting participants check out the time bank and sign up during the Eco Swap.

Throughout the event we got wonderful feedback about how glad everyone was that we hosted it. And there were plenty of squeals of delight as ladies made great scores, oohed and ahhed over each other’s finds, and generally chatted each other up.

Another happy result was how many women found they made new connections and were excited to stay in touch with the women they met.

Less is more

As a conservationist I couldn’t be happier knowing that we helped put hundreds of garments to reuse. But more than that, I’m happy to see so many fine efforts by my fellow community members in finding creative ways to connect, build relationships, and help our town grow even more resilient.

The prep work was easy. And as you know, if you’ve ever gotten a bunch of women together, you’ve never seen a more cooperative and hard working bunch. Everyone helped with clean up. Volunteers have already come forward looking to help with future events.

Speaking of which, the guys want to know when it’s their turn, and others are hankering for swap meets themed around kids, teens, home decor, books, tools — you name it.

It’s clear to me that bartering is totally in vogue. And given America’s general richness, and almost everyone’s feeling that there’s so much stuff everywhere, we can probably keep going on barter for many years to come. Talk about a way to cut America’s trade deficit with China!

–Lindsay Curren, Lindsay’s List

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