Swap-O-Matic Vending Machine Lets You Trade But Not Buy

Lina Fenequito/Video screen capture

The vending machine is the great beacon of consumerism; the refrigerator-sized appliance exists only to sell things. Lina Fenequito's got a different idea for the vending machine: it's called the Swap-O-Matic, and it won't accept any money, no matter how flat and crisp the bill. It's really more of a bartering machine: you deposit one item and take another, or accept a credit to grab something later on.

We first covered the Swap-O-Matic back in 2005, when Fenequito created it as a thesis project for her MFA. Seven years later, she hasn't let the idea go. There's a working Swap-O-Matic at Ample Hills Creamery, a Brooklyn ice cream shop.

Not only does the idea promote the reuse of anything that can fit in a box that's about a cubic foot, it delivers a much-needed rebuke of consumerism that's fun as well as convenient. Fenequito writes:

This project co-ops the form of a vending machine, which is usually associated with instant gratification and convenient consumption, to promote a more sustainable alternative to buying things new, raise awareness about conscious consumption, and make swapping fun!

Fenequito isn't content with just one Swap-O-Matic, build a new model, an accompanying web and mobile site, and ultimately install five more machines. She's launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $135,000, and plans to let supporters determine the locations of the new Swap-O-Matics. So if you love this idea (like I do), consider pledging, and vote for wherever you want to get swapping.

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Tags: Brooklyn | Consumerism | resilience