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Ever since becoming a parent, I've increasingly become obsessed with our household "stuff in, stuff out" mantra, and I know I'm not alone. Parents are eager to recycle outgrown clothing, books, music, movies, games, and other miscellany, and web entrepreneurs have responded.
Check out these four online "swap sites" to start reducing, reusing, and recycling your gently used kid stuff—or barter for things you can use—through just a few co-operative clicks, keeping perfectly good stuff out of the landfill.
Just set up "want" and "have" lists by inputting an item's UPC code or ISBN, and Swaptree's fancy trade algorithms determine which users have what you want and want what you have. Currently available items included copies of Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, the soundtrack from HBO’s hit comedy series Flight of the Conchords, and a Nintendo Wii Fit. We also dig that, unlike other online marketplaces, Swaptree is free (users only pay for shipping). Plus you can calculate an item's weight and generate printable shipping labels right there on the website. Saving time and money—copasetic.
Check out SwapTree.com for more information.
Launched in 2008, the Decatur, Georgia-based Freepeats is a national swapping site organized by forums in different metropolitan areas, each of which are devoted exclusively to baby, kid, and maternity items. Freepeats’ online forums and message boards allow parents to post or pick up gently used goods locally, and also to find information on area retail, consignment, and garage sales. Freepeats currently has forums in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, and Washington DC, to name a few, and the founders seek to have at least a dozen major metro forums up and running by the end of 2008, according to their website. Early adopting parents (those who sign up in the first two weeks of their local forum’s creation) enjoy a free lifetime membership—for everyone else, the one-time membership fee is only $4.95 (payable with PayPal), which covers the website’s operating costs.
Check out Freepeats.org for more information and to find a forum group near you.
Based in Denver, Colorado, Zwaggle is a points-based swapping site where members earn "Zoints" for various tasks, like posting items and inviting friends to sign up for the service. Members decide an item's worth in "Zoints" when posting or "purchasing" an item, and then simply pay the shipping charges through PayPal. Also, Zwaggle has partnered with various charities so that members who are only looking to flow stuff out, not in, can donate their "Zoints" and the charities can then use the "Zoints" to acquire things they need on Zwaggle. Good karma indeed.
Check out the list of charities at Zwaggle.com for more information.
The original stuff-swapping site, The Freecycle Network was created as a list-serv back in 2003 by Deron Beal, so that he could swap stuff with his local friends and charities in Tucson, Arizona. Freecyle now boasts over 5 million members in over 4,000 communities around the globe, which has helped keep "300 tons [of stuff] out of the landfill every day," according to the Freecycle.org About Us page. Unlike the other swapping sites we mentioned above, Freecyle is a locally based "grassroots movement," so members pick up the items (versus shipping them), making it the truly free option out of the four. Well, minus the ever-increasing price of gas for your vehicle of choice.
Find a Freeycle Network near you at Freecycle.org.
Story and image Copyright 2008, Shoestring LLC and Christine Koh / MinimalistMama.com.