GOOD

At This Vending Machine, Swapping is the New Buying

Swap-O-Matic encourages users to trade with their neighbors to raise awareness of over-consumption.


We're used to putting money in a vending machine and instantly receiving consumable goods—a bag of chips, a soda, or even a new pair of headphones—in return. But what if vending machines became a fresh way to reuse, recycle, and trade with people in your community? That's the vision of the Swap-O-Matic, a New York City-based vending machine project that wants to "shift culture away from an emphasis on unconscious consumption" by encouraging people to donate and receive used items for free.

To use the Swap-O-Matic, you register with an email address using the machine's touchscreen interface. New traders start out with three swapping "credits." Donating an item earns additional credits, which can be redeemed for anything else in the machine. The Swap-O-Matic operates on an honor system—no one is monitoring whether you're actually putting a pair of earrings into the machine in order to get the cool Star Wars action figure your neighbor donated, a "flag system" prevents misuse.


Lina Fenequito, the primary creator and designer of the Swap-O-Matic, has long been an advocate of sustainable living and responsible consumption of resources. Fenequito writes on the Swap-o-Matic website that she remembers being dragged out of the local mall in tears by her mother who "would not let me buy the new brown loafers I thought I could not live without."

Years later, while working with social-justice activists in low-income communities in North Carolina, Fenequito writes, she began to seriously reflect on the "ingrained mindset of a culture that has been 'programmed' to consume and buy blindly" without consideration of the social and ecological consequences. Fenequito deliberately chose the vending machine format as a way of playfully commenting on the our cultural addiction to "immediacy, instant gratification, and convenience."

Since making its debut last year, the Swap-O-Matic has been housed in various locations across New York City—everywhere from the Parsons The New School for Design, where Fenequito earned her master's degree and now teaches, to the Lower Eastside Girls' Club. It currently sits at the Ample Hills Creamery, an all-natural ice cream shop in Brooklyn. Fenequito hopes to expand the project from the initial machine—after all, the message of recycling and reusing instead of always buying something new is one that resonates globally.

Via Springwise

Photo courtesy of Swap-O-Matic

Articles

Some beauty pageants, like the Miss America competition, have done away with the swimsuit portions of the competitions, thus dipping their toes in the 21st century. Other aspects of beauty pageants remain stuck in the 1950s, and we're not even talking about the whole "judging women mostly on their looks" thing. One beauty pageant winner was disqualified for being a mom, as if you can't be beautiful after you've had a kid. Now she's trying to get the Miss World competition to update their rules.

Veronika Didusenko won the Miss Ukraine pageant in 2018. After four days, she was disqualified because pageant officials found out she was a mom to 5-year-old son Alex, and had been married. Didusenko said she had been aware of Miss World's rule barring mother from competing, but was encouraged to compete anyways by pageant organizers.

Keep Reading Show less

One mystery in our universe is a step closer to being solved. NASA's Parker Solar Probe launched last year to help scientists understand the sun. Now, it has returned its first findings. Four papers were published in the journal Nature detailing the findings of Parker's first two flybys. It's one small step for a solar probe, one giant leap for mankind.



It is astounding that we've advanced to the point where we've managed to build a probe capable of flying within 15 million miles from the surface of the sun, but here we are. Parker can withstand temperatures of up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit and travels at 430,000 miles per hour. It's the fastest human-made vehicle, and no other human-made object has been so close to the sun.

Keep Reading Show less
via Sportstreambest / Flickr

Since the mid '90s the phrase "God Forgives, Brothers Don't" has been part of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point's football team's lexicon.

Over the past few years, the team has taken the field flying a black skull-and-crossbones flag with an acronym for the phrase, "GFBD" on the skull's upper lip. Supporters of the team also use it on social media as #GFBD.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture