Friday, May 7, 2010

Swap 'til you drop

A recent issue of my Live Cheap newsletter pointed me toward this article from USA Today about a growing trend: clothing swaps. Trading clothes with friends is hardly a new concept, and parties for that purpose (sometimes known informally as "naked lady parties") have been around for a while. What's new is the scale on which swapping is now being done. A group in Massachusetts called the Swapaholics hosts huge swap meets for 200 to 300 people in school gyms and warehouses. Online groups are also getting into the act. On sites like and, people post what they have to offer and what they are seeking in exchange—a bit like Freecycle, except that you always give and take at the same time (and, since these aren't exclusively local groups, you may have to pay shipping costs).

This article was rather timely for me, because I engaged in a bit of swapping myself over May Day weekend. Knowing that I would be making a couple of visits on Friday and Saturday, I hauled along a bag full of clothes in good shape that I wasn't wearing for one reason or another. My mom took three items, including a lovely cashmere turtleneck that was too itchy for me (yes, my skin really is so sensitive that even pure cashmere irritates it), and friends at a potluck party on May Day took several more. I'm happy to see my unused clothes go to people who will use and appreciate them, and I got an unexpected bonus: someone else at the party happened to be getting rid of a long lace-up dress in a blue-flowered print that fit me just beautifully. So now I have one new item that I will actually wear, plus the closet space to keep it in.

Swapping clothes and other goodies is an ecofrugal three-fer: you get new-to-you stuff without having to pay for it, you get rid of unwanted stuff without sending it to the landfill, and you keep someone else's unwanted stuff out of the landfill as well. There's really no down side. I've only done it on a small scale up until now, but I definitely intend to check out some of the swap-sites listed in the article. Watch this space for follow-up info on how it goes.
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