The Soul of Swapping

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Clothing SwapsEach season we are bombarded with advertisements that tell us we need the latest look with all the bells and whistles (i.e. bags and shoes) to go with them. On a recession budget, or any budget for that matter, it’s not always an option to saunter into the mall and pick up the trendy sweater and kitten heels. Yet we all want to look out best and look as fabulous on the outside as we feel on the inside.

Solution? Good old fashioned swapping.

The Reality

(Almost) everyone I know can walk into their closet right this very second and pick out at least a dozen items of clothing and shoes that have not seen the light of day in YEARS! What was once purchased with love, or at least an intent to wear someday, can end up gathering dust and broken dreams in your beloved closet.

What if we can gather these precious once loved bag of clothing, shoes, etc. and invite a few of our friends to do the same. Now we’re seeing the possibilities. We’ve all heard the old saying, “what is one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure.” Well, we can adjust that slightly by saying, “what was one woman’s old tight shirt, can be another woman’s fabulous new blouse!” (This isn’t only for the ladies though, swapping works for men and especially kids!)

The Swap

The “swap” has long been associated with a huge gathering in some large building or a parking. Then dozens upon dozens of tables are set up and STUFF that can include everything from collectibles to toys. However, in recent years the swap has moved to a more intimate setting. The swap party is a whole different animal. You can organize a swap party in your own home and invite as few or as many friends as you would like. You can even start small and try this casually with one friend by browsing each others closet. The idea isn’t so much the venue but the people and the spirit you’re trying to foster.

The Benefits

It doesn’t take much planning to create a monthly or bi-monthly ritual of cleaning out the old and sharing the new to help give life to a wardrobe without shelling out the dough. You can even expand this to include house wears and treasure swaps as you near the holiday season. The soul of swapping is about giving life to something that has already made its way through the production cycle and is now patiently waiting for a new owner. To you it’s a sweater you haven’t worn in a year, to someone else it’s a brand new adventure!

Online Swapping

Swapping has also gone online. There are sites dedicated to “swapping shopping.” You post your stuff for swapping and earn credits for “purchasing” other items posted by swappers all over the country. Most of these sites require you to pay for shipping, which can be a flat rate or negotiated with the other swapper, but membership is usually free.

Here are a few sites that I’ve found. Let me know what you think of them:

The only warning I have is that you WILL get addicted to this way of looking at things. A way in which we can create a community of exchange and sharing that can connect you to your friends way beyond simply sharing a great cardigan. Enjoy!

Signing off… EcoDiva.

(Photo: tweng)

{ 11 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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11 Responses to “The Soul of Swapping”

  1. NonStopDad says:

    Thanks for informing us of yet another way to be green consumers. I’m gonna consider how I can start “swapping” and replace my old (but serviceable) stuff with “new” stuff.


    • ecodiva says:

      So great to hear it. The dads had a great time at my last swap…they really got into the whole “shopping” mode and were thrilled to let go of some outdated, yet “vintage” to others stuff.

      I’d love to hear how it goes 😉


  2. carla says:

    Thanks for sharing the online swap links! I know I can spend hours on them. 🙂

  3. ecodiva says:

    Hi Carla,

    I feel the same way. Whenever I log on I feel like I’ve found a little treasure box of goodies. And it always seems so much more intimate than ebay or online auctions.

    Let me know if you know of other good online swaps, or if you try one with your friends. 😉


  4. Rebecca says:

    Elena-I think this is where our world should be headed! We have decided that we will no longer purchase new. Instead, we will hit up swaps and consignment…what a wonderful way to reduce, reuse and recycle!
    Glad the “swapping” concept is getting out there.

    • Elena says:


      I agree. Shopping is definitely fun and has it place. But we can’t treat our clothes like Kleenex and throw them out when we are done just to get them new once more.

      Swapping is a great way to go and can be FUN!!

      Hugs back to you mama,
      EcoDiva 😉

  5. Tara says:

    Thanks Elena for raising awareness about clothes swapping and for making it sound so appealing! This article is very helpful and inspiring!

  6. Paige says:

    I didn’t have such a great experience at my first swap. I left empty-handed. I was bummed.

  7. Elena says:

    Hi Paige,

    I’d love to hear what exactly went wrong. With our swaps, I think it took us a few times to really get into it. The kids clothes was EASY!! The next size up and your set. With the moms clothing it can be a bit more sticky.

    I hope you don’t give up and try again. Maybe some guidelines (or gentle suggestions) would help. I love mini-swaps too…where you and 1-2 friends visit each others closet for a mini swap ;).

    If you try again, I’d love to know how it goes.

    Elena (EcoDiva)

  8. Paige says:

    I think what went wrong was a lack of guidelines. If I had known how it was going to be-people shopping the goods that didn’t bring any to exchange, stained kids clothes, no limitation to what you take, etc.-I never would have done it. Hopefully I will have better luck next time.

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