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

via Barry Schapiro / Twitter

The phrase "stay in your lane" is usually lobbed at celebrities who talk about politics on Twitter by people who disagree with them. People in the sports world will often get a "stick to sports" when they try to have an opinion that lies outside of the field of play.

Keep Reading

The Free the Nipple movement is trying to remove the stigma on women's breasts by making it culturally acceptable and legal for women to go topless in public. But it turns out, Free the Nipple might be fighting on the wrong front and should be focusing on freeing the nipple in a place you'd never expect. Your own home.

A woman in Utah is facing criminal charges for not wearing a shirt in her house, with prosecutors arguing that women's chests are culturally considered lewd.

Keep Reading

In August, the Recording Academy hired their first female CEO, Deborah Dugan. Ten days before the Grammys, Dugan was placed on administrative leave for misconduct allegations after a female employee said Dugan was "abusive" and created a "toxic and intolerable" work environment. However, Dugan says she was actually removed from her position for complaining to human resources about sexual harassment, pay disparities, and conflicts of interest in the award show's nomination process.

Just five days before the Grammys, Dugan filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and her claims are many. Dugan says she was paid less than former CEO Neil Portnow. In 2018, Portnow received criticism for saying women need to "step up" when only two female acts won Grammys. Portnow decided to not renew his contract shortly after. Dugan says she was also asked to hire Portnow as a consultant for $750,000 a year, which she refused to do.

Keep Reading