Want to get rid of your stuff but don’t want to just throw it away? Here are 5 ways I swap stuff free. What I love about swapping is that it’s so easy. Sure, I’d love to sell stuff I don’t use anymore on EBay. But, I don’t have time to take pictures, write up descriptions, price everything, track purchases and otherwise deal with the hassle of being an online seller. Swapping is the perfect solution, and these ways make it easy to do.
Plus, when you swap stuff free, in addition to getting rid of clutter and reducing trash, you free up your budget to afford other items that you need to buy. Some greener products can be a bit more expensive than their conventional counterparts, but when you swap stuff for free, you create more room in your budget for the green essentials you want.
Of course, another way to increase your budget for green goods is to use cash back credit cards when you do make a purchase, and to use that free cash back money to supplement your overall green living budget. That’s why we’ve teamed up with CreditLoan.com on this post. Swapping for what you want, and using cash back to help you afford what you need, is a pretty good way to help pay for your greener lifestyle.
5 Ways to Swap Stuff Free
Books – Put up a Little Free Library
Little Free Libraries are just about the easiest way to swap books I know of. Here’s how they work: You build or put up a water-proof box where it can be accessed any time of the day or night (many people put them on their front lawns). The box isn’t too big – maybe 24 inches wide and 30 inches high. It closes with a latch, but doesn’t lock, so anyone can put a book in or take one out. It might have 2 shelves in it so it can accommodate 20 or so books. Anyone walking buy is welcome to take a book out for free. You can also put one of your own books in for free – in fact, that’s the idea. Take a book out, put a book in. If you don’t want to build an actual box, you can get creative by using a water-proof trunk, an old refrigerator, a small furniture chest, or anything else that helps to hold the books.
Of course, you can always donate books to a school or a library. But for a true swap? Consider putting up a Little Free Library on your block, and encourage neighbors to do the same. You can also put up free libraries in apartment buildings and condo and townhome complexes.
Clothes – Set up a clothing exchange with friends and neighbors
Moms are masters when it comes to swapping their kids clothes. It’s easy to swap clothes an older kid has outgrown with a mom who has a toddler. Teenage girls are great at swapping, too. It extends their budgets and keeps them up on the latest fashions without having to lay out too much cash. But what if you need to clear out your own closet and would like to change up your wardrobe a bit? Try organizing a clothing swap with friends and family, or colleagues at work. Here are the basic “rules” to help make it a success. Essentially, host a fun coffee or happy hour. Invite a group as large or small as you want. Ask everyone to bring clothing that is clean and in good condition. Have a place where all the clothes can be set out by size and/or style. Then let the swapping begin. Donate any leftover clothes to a local charity. GetRichSlowly.org lays out more precise guidelines for a successful swap here.
Garden Plants – Swap seeds, seedlings, and the plants themselves
Swapping garden plants is a no brainer for a lot of reasons. Plants can be expensive, and there’s no guarantee they’ll thrive in your garden. When you swap, you get plants for free, keep plants out of the trash if you don’t compost, and can get access to plants from gardens that get the same amount of rainfall, sunlight, or pests as yours. Swap plants informally via a neighborhood list serv, or join your local garden club and start an annual spring plant swap. By the way you can also swap the vegetables and herbs you grow for ones you don’t.
Don’t Miss: Don’t Buy Plants. Swap! (I did, and saved $50.)
Kids’ Stuff – Swap Toys, Games and Sporting Equipment
Kids usually outgrow their toys and games long before those things break. This is the kind of stuff that has a tendency to pile up and create a lot of clutter, so why not keep putting it to use by setting up a swap? You can organize it the same way you organize a clothes swap, but with an added bonus: get your kids involved, and teach them from an early age to swap and share rather than always think the first they should do is buy news.
Meals – You Make Two, She Makes Two
Swapping meals is great when you want to eat delicious home-cooked food but don’t have time to do all the cooking and shopping every week. One year, a neighbor and I who both worked outside the home and had two little kids to feed decided to swap meals during the week. She made enough for my family two nights a week, and I made enough for her family two weeks a night. It was a great way to have delicious suppers without having to worry about them every night. Plus, it introduced us to recipes that the other was unfamiliar with. If you do this, set it up for a trial for a month. Agree on ingredients and make sure you know if anyone has any food allergies. Then, figure out the best delivery time. (This is not a potluck, so people aren’t going to each others’ homes for dinner, though they could.)
What are your favorite ways to swap stuff free? Please share!