Monday, February 26, 2007

A New Player on the Swapping Scene...

Web sites and online tools for swapping used items seem to be springing up on a fairly regular basis, and that's a good thing sustainability-wise: why throw out a used item if someone else can get some value out of it? The newest addition to this group is SwitchPlanet, and founder Chris Samarin has come up with a pretty unique model for facilitating the trade of items that current owners don't want, and others do:
Use more…waste less! The idea is simple but the end result is amazing. Members save money by trading the things they already have but no longer use to get the things they need. One person gets rid of something taking up space in their home and another person benefits by filling a need…so everyone wins.

Most importantly SwitchPlanet was built to help an even greater need. Because SwitchPlanet is free to use members are given the option to donate any amount they choose every time they receive something for free on the SwitchPlanet Network. These donations are put into a SwitchFund that is then distributed among selected charities and non-profit organizations.

“I want this thing to be huge so the positive impact it has on society is also huge,” states Founder, Chris Samarin, “If we can get millions of people using the site and donating on average $1 per month, wow, we can sure help a lot of people if that happens.”
The donation idea is a new twist, at least to me. Users pay to ship items they're giving away, but get items they request for free, so SwitchPlanet encourages them to contribute what they'd normally pay (even if it's just shipping and handling) to one of the charities with which the company's partnered. Think of it as "paying forward..."

Additionally, SwitchPlanet uses an internal currency: users "pay" for items with SwitchBucs. A user earns the credits for sending out items, and "pays" for things s/he wants with the currency. Users don't have to trade actual items this way, and "refunds" can even be issued if a transaction doesn't go as planned.

SwitchPlanet is currently in private beta, but Chris tells me it will be going public very soon. If you'd like to get in on the tail end of the private test, let me know, and I'll pass your information along to Chris -- he's told me sustainablog readers are welcome to try out the system before launch. Right now, the system is only set up for CDs, DVDs and games, but other items will be added to the mix shortly.

This looks very cool! Guess I'll need to dust off some of the things I don't use...

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