Swapping for Fabulous Fashions

Photo: courtesy of Swapsity
Plus: Why you can’t miss the eco-swap event of the year!

There is Autoshare, which gives its members access to a fleet of cars; Landshare, which connects growers to people with land to share; Rent frock Repeat, where users can rent designer dresses at a fraction of the price; and Airbnb, where homeowners can rent out a room or their entire pad to travelers. Everywhere you look, people are taking part in Collaborative Consumption, a term that refers to an economy based on the shared usage of goods and services. Instead of buying 100 percent of what we need, we are sharing, renting, bartering and swapping on a scale never seen before. It’s no wonder Collaborative Consumption has been named by Time Magazine as one of 10 ideas that will change the world.

Given that the average Canadian consumer debt is $27,000, and 42 percent of us live paycheck to paycheck, the enthusiasm for a complementary financial system is growing. Today, 20 percent of business done worldwide is actually conducted via barter! Many local success stories have emerged, including Toronto’s own Swapsity. It’s Canada’s leading swapping community, dedicated to building a more consumption-conscious and sustainable lifestyle both online and offline. And the Swapsity online scene is buzzing, where members are exchanging almost anything you can imagine: bootcamp classes for DJ equipment, Indian cooking for photography, business consulting for acupuncture, or even a new Brita water filter for homemade jam. The swap ideas are limitless—from the practical to the just plain fun—and help people turn their things, skills, space or time into something else of value. “We are so accustomed to using money to pay for everything that we need, that we forget that there is this whole other world out there,” says Swapsity founder Martina Nowinska in her TEDxTalk, which is a great primer on the swap concept.

That whole other world is coming to the 2014 Green Living Show, April 25-27 at the Direct Energy Centre in Toronto. Back for the third year in a row, the Swapsity Swap Zone invites people of all ages in to join in on the Barter Economy and use their no-longer-loved items as currency. And this year’s event has a sensational twist: in addition to a media swap there will also be a new-and-exciting fashion accessory swap! The event promises to be a fun and exciting extravaganza, with thousands of fabulous pre-loved accessories and jewellery items up for grabs. You can say a fashion swap is like sustainable shopping without taking out your credit card. It’s the stylish way to recycle. Grab your quality pre-loved necklaces, handbags, scarves and shoes (men’s items are welcome, too) and plan to treasure hunt, recycle and get glamorous at the ultimate fashion swap party in town. It’ll be an extravaganza of belts, colourful scarves, oversized sunglasses, stylish shoes and more. It’s a chance to let go, de-clutter, curb consumption, save money, have fun and score fabulous ‘new’ finds. Très chic!

Last year’s Swap Zone at the Green Living Show was a crowd magnet and the buzz was contagious. 5,669 media items were dropped off, 4,762 of which were swapped for total swapper savings of over $38,000! There were some happy barterers too, like Tamara, who brought 76 items including The Dark Knight and Batman Begins on Blue-ray and the Star Wars trilogy boxset. In return, she scooped up four books from the Shopaholic series and titles from literary favourites Chuck Palahniuk, Susanna Clarke, Stephen King and Louisa May Alcott.

While the concept of sharing, bartering and swapping certainly isn’t new (the history of barter can be traced back to 6000 BC!), it’s coming back in a big way, especially when we consider how much more sustainable it is compared to continuously producing more and more stuff. How do you collaboratively consume? We love to hear from you! E-mail editor@green-living.ca.

Planning to attend the 2014 Green Living Show? Start putting aside your swappable media and fashion items! As we solidify the details of this year’s exciting Swap Zone, we’d love your feedback. Click here to take a 3-minute survey.