Swap-O-Matic: a vending machine for the sharing economy

The Swap-O-Matic, is a vending machine that allows users to swap and trade, rather than buy. Designed by New York City-based Lina Fenequito, the Swap-o-Matic was created as a fun way to get people to shift from unconscious over-consumers into more sustainably aware citizens who reuse and barter – all for free!

Lina Fenequito explains the goal of her project: “to promote a shift in culture away from an emphasis on unconscious consumption towards a more sustainable way of life through reusing and trading.” All items in the machine are considered equal: you can put in a pair of old shoes and take out a collectible Tintin statue if that’s what you find. The concept revolves around making recycling and reusing fun, without all the baggage of currency.

Using the Swap-O-Matic is quite simple. As the site states: “Each of the donated items in the machine is free and there is no charge for using the Swap-O-Matic. The basic currency for a transaction is a “credit”. Credit is earned when the user donates an item, and a credit is required to retrieve an item from the machine. All new users receive 3 credits to start. Users can donate, receive, or swap using the touch screen interface on the front of the machine.”

A user account can be created by simply entering an email address via the screen. Once an account is set up, the Swap-O-Matic furnishes the user with credit that can be applied immediately or saved. Patrons can earn more credits by donating items to the machine.

The machine has been located from the Parsons The New School for Design, where Fenequito earned her master’s degree and now teaches, to the Lower Eastside Girls’ Club. You can currently find it at the Ample Hills Creamery, an all-natural ice cream shop in Brooklyn.

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