• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
  • Mike Jay
  • Anne Miller
  • Jocelyn Campbell
stewards:
  • Devaka Cooray
  • Joseph Lofthouse
  • Burra Maluca
garden masters:
  • Dave Burton
  • Pearl Sutton
gardeners:
  • James Freyr
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Daron Williams

Neighborhood "swap shack" - anyone tried something similar?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 10
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
1
fiber arts fish forest garden
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I live on a 1/10th of a an acre in a fairly standard suburban housing development. I've had the idea kicking around in my head of setting up something between a large Little Free Library and a small shed in my front yard, where people could drop off stuff they don't want anymore and people could browse for things they can use. There would be spaces for books, useful containers, clothes, etc., and maybe even a compostables collection container if I can figure out how to do it. We don't have an HOA, and I haven't found anything in city codes that would apply, but I wanted to see if anyone else had tried something similar and what hurdles they ran into before I set about reinventing the wheel.
 
Posts: 42
Location: Northern BC Zone 3
6
books food preservation hunting
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Haven't done it myself but it sounds like a good idea as long as someone stays on top of keeping it organized.
 
pollinator
Posts: 256
Location: PNW
45
books food preservation homestead cooking tiny house trees urban
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
One of the blogs I read mentions this type of thing a lot.  You can read about it here: https://www.onehundreddollarsamonth.com/all-the-freebies-i-brought-home-from-the-recycle-center-this-year/

I think it's pretty neat and I wish they had something like it in my area.  So, in short, I think it's a lovely idea.
 
Wiley Fry
Posts: 10
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
1
fiber arts fish forest garden
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Tim - I figured I'd do a once-a-week comb through and take anything that's been hanging around for a while to an appropriate thrift shop or recycling center. Hopefully I actually follow through ^_^

Sonja - I got the idea from the municipal dump in my New England hometown. It had a similar set of sheds. Out here in Colorado I don't even think we have a town dump and when I reminisce fondly about going to the dump my husband looks at me like I've grown a second head.
 
Posts: 135
Location: NNSW Australia
14
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We have a single shop/post office in our village. Over the years they went from being a drop-off center for free produce to being a drop off center for anything smaller than a fridge.

Books, dvds, clothes, appliances, fruit and veg, seeds, potted plants.
The turnover is high because the community is thrifty and pro-recycling.

The amount of free fruit is staggering, but we have a lot of people making jam. some of which is sold through the shop - luckily boxes full of cleaned, de-labeled jars are also dropped off here.

The free veg will often find its way into meals that raise funds for the local hall and community initiatives.

--

Obtaining other peoples compostables sounds like a dream scenario to me, though I can imagine regulatory bodies or busy-bodies raising a stink.
 
pollinator
Posts: 265
37
food preservation homestead cooking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
http://localtools.org/find/

There is a tool library here in Florida.

These are the pitfalls.

1)   People will bring junk tools that no one will use and it will only take up space.

2)   People will borrow and not bring back or wait 10 months to bring back, I suggest a deposit, and a membership fee for sharpening blades / replacing tools.

3)   People will have no clue about how to run said device, and they will destroy it / abuse it / lend it to a 8 year old who has no clue.    Perhaps training for the tools could be required before they use.

A set of laws for the use of the tools should be put in writing.       I do think it is a great idea, and if we could be like the Amish and work together we sure would need less items to make it in our life.

 



 
pollinator
Posts: 700
Location: Chicago/San Francisco
47
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When I'm in SF I have spent much of my time on boats. Most of the harbors had recycle areas next to the garbage bins. Since (almost - huh!) everybody dumps their garbage at least once a week, this actually worked pretty well with nobody lifting a finger. Lately gentrification has set in and harbors have come under pressure to make things look neat and white pickety fency. We shall see what happens going forward.

But the location near the garbage bin was, I believe, critical because the whole community did a walk-by at least once a week. It might be worth some considerable effort to install your idea such that the natural flow of traffic is as large as humanly possible. And now I think about it, that might take some ingenuity because I'm guessing your community uses individual garbage bins. Also, harbor people have (until recently) been laid back, live/let-live types and didn't feel upset by a few micowaves, toaster ovens, New York Time best sellers, the occasional bilge pump and ratty old fender stacked next to the garbage bin. That type of stuff might not make it as yard ornaments at the entrance to your community. Well, maybe folks will have enough curiosity to mosey over to some discreet shed. Hah! I got it. At least half the people seem to have dogs to walk, so put it right at/near a choke point where all the dog walkers pass by.

> share tools
Don't even think about trying to do it right unless you got nothing else to do with your life. Treat it like any recycle item and just count it as good enough when they all disappear.


Cheers
Rufus
 
Mart Hale
pollinator
Posts: 265
37
food preservation homestead cooking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Rufus Laggren wrote:When I'm in SF I have spent much of my time on boats. Most of the harbors had recycle areas next to the garbage bins. Since (almost - huh!) everybody dumps their garbage at least once a week, this actually worked pretty well with nobody lifting a finger. Lately gentrification has set in and harbors have come under pressure to make things look neat and white pickety fency. We shall see what happens going forward.

But the location near the garbage bin was, I believe, critical because the whole community did a walk-by at least once a week. It might be worth some considerable effort to install your idea such that the natural flow of traffic is as large as humanly possible. And now I think about it, that might take some ingenuity because I'm guessing your community uses individual garbage bins. Also, harbor people have (until recently) been laid back, live/let-live types and didn't feel upset by a few micowaves, toaster ovens, New York Time best sellers, the occasional bilge pump and ratty old fender stacked next to the garbage bin. That type of stuff might not make it as yard ornaments at the entrance to your community. Well, maybe folks will have enough curiosity to mosey over to some discreet shed. Hah! I got it. At least half the people seem to have dogs to walk, so put it right at/near a choke point where all the dog walkers pass by.

> share tools
Don't even think about trying to do it right unless you got nothing else to do with your life. Treat it like any recycle item and just count it as good enough when they all disappear.


Cheers
Rufus




I like this as you don't have to worry about being a mommy and daddy to those those who don't know how to use tools.

There is a group on Yahoo, called "Freecyclers"      they post items they want to get rid of but don't want to throw away and want to give to someone who could use it for free.


 
pollinator
Posts: 2230
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
128
forest garden trees urban
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think local culture will dictate if /how this would work.

Where I live,  people would dump garbage and take everything worth having,  while leaving a mess behind.

That's why we can't have nice things like a self serve swap shop.

The function  of a swap shop as you describe it is filled here by pawn shops, ReStore shops, thrift stores, food banks, Craigslist, recyclers and city services(for  compostable yard waste).

Commerce and government substitute for a culture of responsibility, and  bring added expense and regulation.
 
pollinator
Posts: 481
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
45
bike building chicken fungi gear homestead trees ungarbage wood heat woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wiley, I think the success of your very charitable idea will depend on the social context.  I can think of certain neighborhoods in certain villages, towns, cities where (on the whole) it could work well.

I live in a rural valley inhabited by a spectrum of social types.  Some are ethical, neighborly, goodhearted... some not.  We have a transfer station (refuse dump) located about a 12-minute drive from my rural property.  There are eight or so recycle bins available to the public 24/seven, located about 25 yards before the station's gate.  But the transfer station itself operates within specified hours, two days a week, and it has a useful-items "free" shack like you describe.  Not only do less conscientious folks (in the closed days) drop off bags of garbage in front of the gate or right near the recycling bins, but some of them have had the habit of bestowing quite junky items (that were cheap bric-a-brac and gewgaws to begn with) in the free shack, to sit there along with old VHS videos, musty paperback books, somewhat-damaged toys, etc.  This isn't to say I haven't left decent things and found decent things there... if I thought about it, I could probably list six or eight great finds there in recent years.

Whereas intake of items was free for many years, the local government finally decided that the extra time required by the transfer-station caretaker (just to sort out junk and tidy-up the shack) necessitated requiring donors to pay a small fee to leave things in the free shack!

Others have already replied to you along the cautionary line, but you may reside in one of those places where the large majority of people are the ethical & goodhearted I mentioned above.
 
Wiley Fry
Posts: 10
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
1
fiber arts fish forest garden
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I agree with everyone warning about the importance of culture, and it's kind of what I'm trying to brainstorm about.  People in my neighborhood tend to be extremely self-centered and insular. It's the sort of place where if you pick a piece of litter off someone's lawn and put it in their trashcan, you risk getting yelled at for touching their trashcan without permission. But I have a political organizing background, and I figure if I can fix the terrible subdivision soil with enough sheet mulching, maybe I can take a crack at "mulching" the local microculture and building more community.

I'm trying to come up with some behavioral nudges that will help build the right culture around use of the swap shack. I've had a dog waste station (basically just a trash can and a bag dispenser) in my front yard for a few years now, and it gets a fair amount of use without people dumping random trash in it or anything. (And has basically eliminated random dog poop on the rest of my block) A few of the ideas I've come up with:

A sign with "spirit of the swap shack" guidelines - no leaving garbage, no taking things to sell until they've been there a while, nothing that won't fit on a shelf without talking to me, etc.
A box with scrap paper and ribbon so that people can attach friendly notes to the item they're dropping off
Designated areas for likely "problem" items like empty plastic containers so they don't fill up the whole thing
A sign-up sheet for people to help haul unwanted items to the thrift shop/recycling
A bulletin board for neighborhood events/services/etc

(And yeah, definitely no illusions about running a tool library. I barely let my husband use my tools until he's proven that he knows how to use them and where to put them back.)
 
Joel Bercardin
pollinator
Posts: 481
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
45
bike building chicken fungi gear homestead trees ungarbage wood heat woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Wiley Fry wrote:(And yeah, definitely no illusions about running a tool library. I barely let my husband use my tools until he's proven that he knows how to use them and where to put them back.)


Intriguing that you write this.  Did you happen upon my post starting a (fairly brief) thread about cooperative shops?  (wood, metal small-engine workshop idea)  ???  I co-founded one such place.

I've been an experimenter and, beyond our homestead here, I'm still involved in our local community, such as local environmental work.  PM me if you're interested in exchanging some thoughts, aspirations, observations.
 
Wiley Fry
Posts: 10
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
1
fiber arts fish forest garden
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Joel Bercardin wrote:Intriguing that you write this.  Did you happen upon my post starting a (fairly brief) thread about cooperative shops?  (wood, metal small-engine workshop idea)  ???  I co-founded one such place.

I've been an experimenter and, beyond our homestead here, I'm still involved in our local community, such as local environmental work.  PM me if you're interested in exchanging some thoughts, aspirations, observations.



I love the idea of cooperative shops, and long term it would be awesome to get something like that going locally, I just don't have anything close to the mental bandwidth for it at present.
 
Joel Bercardin
pollinator
Posts: 481
Location: Western Canadian mtn valley, zone 6b, 750mm (30") precip
45
bike building chicken fungi gear homestead trees ungarbage wood heat woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wiley, as with permaculture in general, it's committed people like you who do the experimenting that, in the short or long run, benefits communities & society.  I applaud what you're planning. 👍 Of course, you seem wise and realize it may require some revision & tweaking along the way.

Good luck with it.   Please let us know how it works out, and share details of the journey involved.
 
Posts: 18
Location: Northern Minnesota
8
books forest garden wood heat
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I really hate to be another cautionary person, but I want to mention to also check liability laws. If someone drops a jar and it cuts them badly enough to need stitchea, the last thing I want is for you to risk being sued.
I think this is a fantastic idea and I really do hope it works out if you try it!
 
Posts: 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would love to try one of these in my neighborhood!
 
I just had the craziest dream. This tiny ad was in it.
Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
https://permies.com/t/61704/Food-Forest-Card-Game-Game
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!