Recessions Are Good For “Free Trade”

by Emily Main

No one can argue that a recession is a good thing, but recessions do force us to reevaluate where, and how, we spend our money–which is the first step on the path to greening your purchases. Do you really need a new pair of $200 boots, or could you just fix the heels on your old ones for $25? Do you really need to buy another tankful of gas or could you bike to work for free? Do you really need to buy another movie or could you borrow one from someone online?

Borrow one from online, of course. Sites where you can find stuff for free are rapidly turning the internet from a global yellow pages into the world’s largest swap meet, making our consumer habits vastly greener and more budget-friendly. Craigslist and Freecycle started the trend years ago, but a new crop of sites are starting to edge in on their territory. lets you post items you’d like to lend to, or borrow or buy from, people in your neighborhood; they’ve even organized borrowing sites for college students wanting to trade textbooks–no need to pay shipping. Likewise, is aimed at moms and moms-to-be who see no need to buy brand-new clothing and gear for those little bean sprouts that grow out of things faster than they can throw bottles at you. You can even buy and trade maternity clothes. If borrowing in cyberspace doesn’t work for you, contact the founders of for tips on how to organize a neighborhood giveaway–no borrowing, bartering or sales allowed, just honest handouts of stuff you no longer find useful.

The world and our landfills are full of top-quality, slightly used goods, and it shouldn’t take a recession to make us realize that getting used stuff for free isn’t just economical, it’s the greenest thing you can do.

Human Journey