Nothing is lost

Posted on 29 April 2015.

An iPad for a sofa, a dress for a video game, or a red paper clip for... a house. Don’t throw stuff out – swap it!

It is 2005. Kyle MacDonald looks at his desk and notices a small red bent paperclip. What if he exchanged the paperclip for a house? He gave himself a year to get there and, swap after swap, he succeeded! Today, Kyle is the proud owner of a beautiful house in Kipling, Canada. This incredible experience shows the potential of swapping our stuff. Long considered outdated, digital and collaborative consumption have given bartering a new lease of life. One way of consuming differently – and far from the usual buy / throw pattern.

Funny money

Online swapping sites have made it easier to get in touch, find items and conduct negotiations. Swaps are often local and can be made person to person. Swapz and GchangeTout for example focus on swapping books, DVDs, clothing, etc. Members create lists of items they are offering and items they would like in exchange. Some of these platforms have set up points systems. Since 2005, the French portal consoGlobe has been offering an online swap service. Once an offer finds a taker, the person offering the item receives points that can be used to acquire anything they want. The points system makes multilateral swapping among the thousands of people in the community possible. The credo: no more stuff thrown out!

Success is measured by how much is saved from landfill sites


Swapsity doesn’t offer an alternative currency, but "matches". Goods as well as services can be exchanged. "We have seen members trade a kitchen renovation for a car, organic vegetables for web design.” So not that far from a paper clip for a house in fact! IRL (in real life) bartering is not neglected either because the social aspect is important - events are held worldwide. The cheerful SWAP team for example organizes an “Undress” event, a giant clothes swap in Montreal. Participants leave their items at a drop off point in exchange for tokens they can use to “buy” new clothes on the big day. Success is measured by how much is saved from landfill sites. The “Undress” event has spread to several other cities – not only in Canada but also in the United States.

Super barters

MyRecycleStuff is not really a swap website - more of a social network for circular bartering. With a super algorithm, "super swaps" between several people are organized every week. MyRecycleStuff has modernized bartering and makes it a social game that goes very fast and is played either by two people OR by several people. Since its inception in September 2013, the French site has 5,000 active members among a community of 15,000 people!

It’s the new face of bartering. Part of the new sharing economy, it has been redesigned by a generation of people aware of their impact on the environment and who, because of the Internet, have been freed from the previous constraints on bartering. It’s both ecologically and economically positive, of course, but it's also great fun! Today, nothing is lost, anything can be swapped. Absolutely everything.