Swapping is more than give and take

“I think swapping is invaluable to communities,” said Shay Mullins at the Spring Stuff Swap. “You are able to receive things you need and get rid of things that might otherwise be tossed out.”

Swap Positive has been hosting community swaps for 11 years in Portland. Swaps bring together volunteer coordinators, donated venues and swappers who bring clean items in good condition to share, at no cost. Items remaining at the end of a swap are donated.

Shay has lived in Portland for nearly 6 years. She grew up in Southwest Florida going to garage sales and “would dumpster dive after the Ringling School of Art and Design let out, and collect copious amounts of art supplies and other non-garbage items that were thrown away,” she said. “I used to use Freecycle, but here in Portland, the giving atmosphere is different and swaps abound, so I ended up moving into those circles rather than staying with what worked elsewhere.”

Shay has participated in and volunteered for dozens of clothing and ‘stuff’ swaps. She loves the culture of giving at community swaps.

“I participate in clothing swaps a couple times a year and have been coming to each biannual stuff swap for four years now.”

One of her favorite parts about participating at a swap is the possibilities. “I love finding things that I need or that someone I know needs. I actually ask my friends for things that they may need so I can keep an eye out for them at the swap.”

“I also like witnessing someone receive an item that they've been wanting for a long time, or needed but couldn't justify purchasing for whatever reason – that ‘paired up’ moment when someone finds something that they need, want, or love. It's elating!”

Another worthwhile element for her is knowing the items she brings that aren’t taken won’t be sold. The remaining items go to organizations and individuals who give them away, in the spirit of sharing. No money ever changes hands. Everyone involved gets to be with other kind, generous, thrifty, sustainability-minded people. That is the mission of Swap Positive Free Swaps.

Are you ready to swap? View our event calendar for upcoming events. Or visit Swap Positive's About Swaps page to learn more and get your questions answered on the FAQ page.

Find more stories about swapping in Portland. #sharingcommunity