How many times have you heard someone lament "We live in a throw-away society"? Certainly, the world would no doubt be a better place if people threw less items in the garbage, and reused products more. Well, that's what Brooklyn designer Lina Fenequito is trying to encourage with her Swap-O-Matic vending machine. Instead of dispensing mass-produced snacks with wrappers that end up in landfills, it plunks out second-hand belongings that need a new owner.
The one-off machine has several compartments containing whatever its users have placed inside, and a touchscreen interface. Instead of money, however, users get items using credits. Everyone starts out with three free credits, then earn one more each time they donate something to the machine. In order to receive something, they must spend one credit. They also have the option of simply swapping an item of their own for one already in the machine, in which case no credits are spent or given.
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Although the system could quite obviously be misused by unscrupulous types, there is at least one safeguard - users must enter their email to access their account, and will be flagged for wrongdoings. Practical considerations aside, however, the machine is more about making a statement than anything else.
"Initially, the Swap-O-Matic is intended to inspire all of us to rethink our consumption habits, and consider more sustainable methods such as trading and reusing goods," Fenequito told us. "On a much larger scale, the ultimate goal is for the Swap-O-Matic to inspire a movement, affecting change for large numbers of people and communities."
The one and only Swap-O-Matic has been stationed at various locations around New York City, and continues to roam the five boroughs. Lina plans on making more machines, which she would like to see placed across the U.S. and possibly even throughout the world.
More information is available in the video below.