Friday, January 6, 2012

Trades are fantastic

Often times we get so caught up in the thrill of getting rid of non-used items we are quick to toss items in the trash or recycling bin. This goes against the very nature of minimalism. Sure we have less in our homes, but we have only multiplied our ecological impact.

And while it is true to say we want to live with less, the fact remains that there are still items we need and want. And while radical minimalists may disagree, my view of minimalism is not to deprive oneself, but rather to live with less rubbish in our lives so that we may focus on items that bring joy rather then burden into our lives.

Trading is a great opportunity to get rid of the items you no longer need without filling the local landfills by breathing life into items once again so someone else may enjoy them, while you too in return acquire items that you need or want to have.

I realize may people may say, ‘Hey is that not contrary to what you are trying to achieve?’. And here I would have to beg to differ. As my plight for a clutter free life is not a desire to live the life of a destitute Monk, though more power to those who do reach that point, but rather to stop spending money on junk that we never use that just fills up our homes and takes time out of our day as we continue to shuffle them around.

Never underestimate the value of your items. Now that is not to say you should hold on to items indefinitely in hopes that someday you will get something, as then you take on a whole new hoarder mentality. But I see no issue within reason, of trying to reclaim something from the time and money you have invested into an item. Joshua Becker explained it great on his blog Becoming Minimalist when he talked about the fact that when throwing things away we are still incurring costs to for he ongoing care of the item. Whether in the trash or at the dump we are paying for our items to fill up space and rot, and personally I would much rather find someone who will love and cherish items that I once loved or at least hoped to love.

Trading is step one in my quest to purging. I start by photographing all items I have to get rid of and labeling them in photobucket photo albums, which actually comes in very handy later down the line when I hit my later stages sell and ebay, as all my facts and photos are in one place. I also keep items sorted and labeled so they are easy to find. Now I have the space to do this, as we have an extra guest apartment upstairs I can easily take up space along one wall. But keep in mind the space issue when deciding what to hang onto to trade.

I look over each item, note sizes, brand, color ect. Look for anything that is not trade or sell worthy and those immediately go to donation. I only trade items that I myself would want to receive. Nothing is more disappointing then excitedly waiting for a package to arrive only to find a subpar item that you were not expecting or worse that you cannot use.  One interesting fact that I found out is that many people throw out old clothing because they assume that it is of no good to a charity.  But many charities take non-sellable textiles and sell that off in bulk for textile recycling. And you can easily double check with your local charities to find out if they too do the same.  Both Goodwill and Salvation Army many times do.

You can find trading opportunities via a great many websites; swap-mamas is a website devoted to trading. Many forums also offer trade sections, I use diaperswappers where people trade all kinds of things not just cloth diapers. And while those two are aimed toward families, there are countless resources out there.  Make sure that you are using a reputable source. I personally only trade on websites that have feedback enabled and only with people that have established feedback. It is rough when people first start out, but with so many scammers in the world, I much prefer to trade with those who have established themselves. Seems like a catch 22 right, you want to start trading but no one wants to trade with you. Consider forums where you can establish yourself. My go to source of trading is via diaperswappers, I established myself by buying used off the FSOT, and later selling, or participating in coops. Once you have your foot, your reputation is key to your success.  Just like a seller you need to be punctual with your trades and remain in good contact with your partner.

Trade values are a tricky note because many people establish trade value differently. I have seen trades go retail value for retail value, 50% off retail value plus shipping. It really varies per person so you should always ask. That is the first thing I ask when I establish contact with a potential trade partner. Personally I stopped establishing trade value, I do of course keep value in the back of my mind, I am not trading a mac book for a key chain, but I also am not trading dollar for dollar. I have the mindset that if someone has an item that fits my needs and I in turn have items they seek I am willing to trade generously, as I am getting rid of items I no longer use and in turn get an item I otherwise would have to spend money to buy.

Keep shipping costs in mind in your trades. If an item costs you 20 to buy new and you will spend that shipping the box of your stuff it is not a very good deal now is it? My personal goal is that in the end I do not spend more then 25-30% of what I would spend buying new. There are costs affiliated with trading, it is not free. You will need your shipping supplies as well as your shipping cost. But if I can get an item that would cost me 25 bucks, I spend 5 bucks and get rids of items out of my house that is pretty rad in my book.

You can also trade many times for handmade or custom items. Many WAHM (work at home moms) offer their services in turn for second hand items, never hesitate to ask. Or if you have a art form to offer you may be able to use that to trade. Good old school bartering.

I have had some great success with trading. Here are a few examples of my trades:
  •        I traded unused accessories for stroller clips for my diaper bag . Retail they cost 20 euro, I paid 3,45 shipping, plus got rid of accessories I never wear.
  •        I traded a skirt that I never wear for 2 heavy and one Overnight/postpartum cloth pad custom made by a wahm. Retail about 30 bucks, again I paid 3.45 shipping and got rid of a skirt I no longer used.
  •    I traded a Disana wool soaker that did not work for Teenie due to his eczema for a pair of hand made quelled paper earrings. Again retail 25 dollars.
  •    I traded  box of old English language paperbacks for night time diapers for Teenie

In these three examples I spent about 14 and got 75+. But more exciting is that fact I got lots of unused items out of my house. I then brought in a handful of items that I wanted/ needed and actually plan to use.

And if for some reason things do not work out and the items do not get the love and attention that I hope they will, I again can trade them out. The possibilities are endless as long as someone out there is seeking an item you no longer love. And you might be surprised by some of the things people buy or trade used :)

Do you trade for items you want or need? Think you might give it a try? Let me know what you think. 

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