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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Clothing Exchanges & Toy Swaps

I realize this isn't my usual fare, but in these difficult economic times, I think this is an extremely important idea whose time has come.

I have recently participated in book exchanges or swaps, as well as a Christmas gift exchange, whereby people bring their unwanted items to a central location, such as a school, church, armory or other public place, in order to exchange them with others who do likewise. There are tables set up, the items are placed on them, people take what they want for FREE! Simple!

Book swaps may be becoming more common in schools, and hopefully the Christmas gift exchange will catch on as well. But one of the most important items people need is clothing, especially those with school-aged children! So...

I have planted the seed in the mind of school officials to create a clothing exchange or swap, during which parents can bring their children's outgrown clothes to a central location, such as the school gym, and exchange them for FREE!

I would like to see this idea spread far and wide. It's easy - and it's free. You could potentially get an entire year's wardrobe for your child absolutely free. I understand that some towns have clothing banks where lower income families can get free clothing, and I have seen a very fine one indeed. But what about towns that don't have decent clothing banks? And what about people with higher incomes who still can't afford the endless stream of clothes needed for their children?

Clothing exchanges/swaps are the perfect answer! And think about all the packaging and assorted other resources we can save by not running down to our local megamart and buying yet more STUFF from foreign countries? I for one am sick to death of plastic wrap and all the rest that comes with new products. How much of that junk is ending up in our waterways, our oceans and so on? How much more plastic do we need to choke and kill our wildlife?

Spare the packaging, save money, better your community - do a clothing exchange!

Toy Swaps/Exchanges

And another great idea whose time is come is a TOY EXCHANGE. If you're like many parents, you have boxes upon boxes of TOYS that are driving you crazy. Gather those toys together in a central location and swap them with others! Again, we're talking about junk, packaging, plastic pellets killing wildlife. Don't throw out those old toys, exchange them for FREE.

You can also agree with your children's friends' parents to exchange used but unbroken toys as gifts at birthdays! If everyone is on board, no one should be offended by not receiving plastic-swathed, new toys to add to the heaps in their homes. Explain that you are interested in both the economic and environmental low impact of giving and receiving used toys at birthday parties.

None of this is difficult or costly to organize. I'm sure you can come up with more exchanges and swaps in your town or city. Just put the idea out there! Spread it around. We have enough STUFF in this country. We don't need to spend our hard-earned and increasingly scarce dollars on these items that are still perfectly good and useful.

Start free clothing, book, toy and gift exchanges and swaps in your neighborhood, town, city and state today!


Tony Bowden said...


Dave said...

You, Acharya, are a blessing upon mankind. You are a joyous and beautiful being!

Goose said...

Acharya, once again you are ahead of the curve -- this is a great idea. This will be an essential activity in the post-collapse economy, especially since U.S. currency will be worthless. The idea that you may never need to buy clothes for your child is exciting. This can be taken a step further with an online clearinghouse, coupled with local swap meets. Thanks! Todd

Acharya S said...

Thanks, guys! I did hear from a couple of people already doing these things, both in the U.S. for profit and in the UK.

But, most Americans have not made these steps, if they have even considered them, so I hope a revolution has been started.

I heard sometime ago that massive amounts of American used clothing is shipped abroad every year. And that's why we see Palestinians, for example, wearing Yankees baseball caps and Disney T-shirts while chanting anti-American slogans.

In any case, I appreciate the acknowledgment. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a ghost town by myself!

Dave said...

Well, I don't know what town you're in, but you are not by yourself!

Check out

And I mean it about you being a beautiful being. I'm not talking of being easy on the eyes beautiful (though you've got that going for you), I'm talking "brainy girls are sexy" beautiful.

Let's do lunch...

db said...

This does happen. I would like to see an organization with the reach and pervasiveness as Goodwill to start up so we can see this in all communities. Is there anyone out there doing this? I want in.

It seems that there are a lot of people offering bits and pieces of support for people, but there really is no one stop shop for helping those in need.

I wish there was a place that provided free clothing, toys, and education to those in need. In the future I would like to expand to include food and housing assistance. This could easily be accomplished through a donation and barter model as well as the volunteer efforts of people interested in making this dream a reality.


Children outgrow clothes quickly and it takes a great deal of time, effort, and money to keep children clothed. I would like to see a place that offered a one to one exchange on gently used clothing. Bring in one item and leave with one item. There would be zero cost to the individual, and the inventory would be amassed through donation and through purchasing overstock items at severely deflated prices.


Children generally get bored with toys very quickly. I would also like to see a toy exchange similar to the clothing exchange. Unfortunately the value of toys varies wildly but it is possible to valuate toys to make the barter system viable. Toys would be evaluated and given a color code. Each color code would have a designated worth. Exhange would be based on this worth so you could exchage many toys for one or one toy for many depending on the worth.


Public schools are drastically cutting programs to meet budgets. I would like to see a place where children can get free tutoring on the traditional subjects while also being able to get free art and music lessons. Classes would be very low cost if there was a need to cover the cost of materials or supplies, otherwise the classes would be free. Materials could be loaned on a deposit basis, otherwise materials would have to remain on site.


Establishing a community garden not only provides for an educational opportunity, it also could provide food for those in need. Once again, volunteer work at the center could be exchanged for food much like a food co-op operates.


If people are not able to provide housing for themselves, there should be an option for them besides living on the street. Providing temporary housing to individuals who are in need should not be done without some kind of commitment from the person receiving aid. As a condition of accepting housing, the individual should supply labor to the center or make a good faith effort to educate themselves while there. Through education and through the building of life skills the hope is that these individuals will eventually be able to find housing outside the center.

Of course there are many other things such as daycare, household goods, cars, the list goes on and on.