A Japanese legend tells of the Straw Millionaire – a man who traded his way from rags to riches, starting with a simple piece of straw. This tale has inspired generations of people to be optimistic, and to strive for something better.
However, incredible swapping stories are not just the stuff of legend. Here are some amazing real-life swapping success stories.
(above) This is perhaps the most famous swap of all. Canadian resident Kyle Macdonald hit the headlines in 2006, when he completed an amazing year-long swapping campaign. Inspired by the Straw Millionaire, he managed to swap his way from a simple red paperclip to a house in Saskatchewan.
(above) Inspired by Kyle’s success, Martin Provost set out on a similar attempt. His mission – to swap his way from an SLR camera to a Tesla Roadster convertible. Popular swapping site Swapsity is documenting Martin’s adventure – as a result of his tenth swap, he’s currently the owner of a bicycle.
(above) In 1973, Nancy Weber and Micki Wrangler began an unusual social experiment. Inspired by the counter-culture of the 1960s, the two women swapped lives for a month – including homes, jobs, and lovers. Although Micki later shunned the surrounding publicity, Nancy wrote a non-fiction book about her experience.
(above) You don’t need a commodity to take part in a swap – as Toronto residents Igor and Natalia have discovered. ‘Skill-swapping’ is becoming increasingly popular, especially amongst young entrepreneurs. Personal trainer Igor and foot reflexologist Natalia are advocates of skill-swapping – Igor gives Natalia personal training sessions in return for free reflexology.
(above) Frustrated by rising living costs, British man Mark Boyle decided to give up spending money for a year. In an experiment that ended up running for almost three years, Mark survived solely by swapping items and services with others. He later wrote a book, The Moneyless Manifesto, about his experiences.
(above) Many people die each year on the organ transplant list, waiting for a suitable kidney. Often a relative may want to donate to their loved one, but isn’t compatible. However, organ-swapping has been heralded as a solution to the shortage of viable donors. In 2006, a particularly complicated organ swap occurred in America. Four patients, each of whom had a willing but incompatible relative, swapped donors, giving each of the sick people a new lease of life.
(above L) Books for London is a British organization, seeking to create a book swapping scheme across the capital. They’ve targeted the London Underground, asking volunteers to man book swapping stations at each stop. The campaign is slowly growing, with Boris Johnson even lending his support to the literature-loving organisation.
(above R) Religion unites people across the globe – something that Brian Burkhart, founder of ‘Pastor Swap’, knows well. A Canadian pastor, Brian took part in a four-month long exchange with a German pastor in 2011. Each took over the clerical duties of the other’s church, watched over one another’s congregations, and gave worshippers an international insight into Christianity.
(above) British gardener Luke Seall brought a whole new meaning to the term ‘spending a penny’ in 2011. Starting with a single penny, he made a series of impressive swaps – from goldfish, through a guitar and a mountain bike – to a small patch of land on the Bulgarian coast.
(above) Many swaps are performed through a sense of altruism. However, this isn’t always the case. When a Michigan resident was told that his home was due to be demolished, he took matters into his own hands. He swapped the number of his house with a derelict house next door – and as a result, the demolition crew tore down the wrong home.
(above) Craigslist is renowned for posting some unusual ads. Kansas City resident Rusty Jones couldn’t believe his eyes when he spotted a swap request on the site – a woman was willing to trade her diamond engagement ring for a set of football tickets. The extensive media coverage meant that Rusty’s proposal wasn’t a surprise to his girlfriend – but thankfully, she still said yes.
(above) Sometimes, swaps hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Earlier this year, a man named Mark Parisi began a swapping campaign with the ambitious final goal of a Nissan 370. However, his initial offering has raised more than a few eyebrows – he announced on US television that he was selling one of his testicles for $35,000.
Perhaps the likes of Mark Parisi and Nancy Weber took the concept of swapping too far. However, there have been many successful swaps – take inspiration from Kyle MacDonald’s story, and swap your way to some incredible savings.
Written by Ben Wosskow of Love Home Swap, a leading home exchange holiday website.
(above) These fuzzy little wool owl ornaments are made entirely out of recycled materials. A word to the wise – you can only buy them as a wholesale set of 15 from from the folks @ Woolcrazy – $120.
(above) These handmade, screen-printed ornaments will add the perfect alternative spin to your holiday celebration. The retro designs are hand-drawn and then screen printed onto ecospun felt – felt that’s made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles – and applied using earth friendly inks. Available in sets of 10 of the same color (5 colors available), 2 of each design. $10 per set from Beckamade.
It’s the Holiday Season … have you given back?
This year instead of buying unnecessary new clothes, gadgets, or goodies for yourself or your significant other, try to give back by giving to or participating in a charity or program. If you’re looking for a little direction, here are a few non-profits on my list of worthy causes:
Toys for Tots is a U.S. Marine Corps Reserve program which has the mission of collecting new, unwrapped toys October-December and then delivering the presents to the less fortunate children. Or, if you don’t have time to drop off a toy, the charity also accepts monetary donations. The program assists children up to the age of 12-16 (depending on the community you’ve donated to), and has no specific requirements for what types of toys are donated, but will not accept any weapons or food. To find the drop off location nearest to you, you can visit: www.toysfortots.org. (more…)
If you’re like me and you love aquarium fish as well as potted plants in your home then you’ll definitely be interested in Aquasprouts. This is a neat gift idea as well as something unique to decorate your home. The aquarium is an educational aquaponic system, sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Austin, Texas-based and made in the USA, Aquasprouts combines both fish and plants into one compact, fun unit.
The aquarium is a closed loop system so that the device is sustainable and efficient for buyers. They are also self-cleaning, self-fertilizing, support fish and also grows plants in a symbiotic relationship. I was amazed that the aquariums are filterless so you don’t have to worry about messy cleanup. The system enables you to grow basil, mint, or other herbs allowing you to always have produce at hand. It can also be implemented in classrooms or for children as a learning experience about ecosystems, earth cycles, aquaculture, and gardening.
The systems are a little pricey and there are only two options of 5.5 gallons and 10 gallons at $250 and $280. However, this includes everything you need and you’ll never have to change the filter or clean it again and you will always have food growing which also saves you a lot of money. I suggest you check out this interesting product and the video under their “About Us” section for yourself at: www.aquasprouts.com
If you survived Black Friday and the indignity of those new Thanksgiving Day blitzkrieg sales – or you boycotted the whole contrived marketing scam that Black Friday has become – you now have the opportunity to order all your goodies direct from the internet on Cyber Monday. No driving for miles to buy something your probably don’t need – no mob scenes, fist fights and fighting over parking spots – just good old American internet shopping – all the buying without the emissions.
Leading the list of Cyber Monday venues is, of course, Amazon.com, one of the originators of this concept (like many retailers Amazon’s deals actually started Sunday). Amazon is offering a week’s worth of daily deals with the commensurate countdown clock and free shipping. Check out their deals on their Cyber Monday page. Of particular interest may be Amazon’s deals on flat screen TVs, many of which are Energy Star approved.
If your taste trends more to handmade items created by real people, look no further than Etsy.com where hundreds of handmade eclectic items are for sale. Many of the handmade items use ec0-friendly materials like the recycled sterling silver in this ring (above) from naturaleza organic jewlery. (more…)
’tis the season … If you’re like me and you love to try new things, especially regarding cooking, Seasonal Spices may be just the thing for you. Launched on Kickstarter, and having received full funding, they will begin delivering its dried spices this month.
After all, variety is the spice of life … but there are so many spices out there. And it’s always difficult to choose which ones to try — whether you’re at the store or your local farmer’s market, but Seasonal Spices makes that process much simpler in a unique way.
If you sign on, each month you will receive a package with a set of freshly ground spices in small, pre-measured quantities, along with recipes to use them in and information about the spices themselves! Whether it is because of the season or just to give you something new to try, this little package of spices can sure come in handy to those who like to cook.
Eco perks: It not only saves you time, it also cuts back on toxic emissions as you won’t have to use gas or create carbon dioxide on your way to a store — just to stand in front of the spice rack wondering what to get! Also, you won’t waste the bottles and jars or space the spices come in and take up because Seasonal Spices come in a small, smart recyclable zip-lock and cardboard container.
The costs are low: you can buy a 3-month supply for $18 and a 6-month supply for $36, which means it’s $6 a month to get spices delivered right to your door. It’s very convenient and the dried spices available for the next few months are listed on the Kickstarter Project page for you to peruse. The brainchild of Brooklyn-based Tara Susan, I highly recommend checking out this unique, new service …
By the way, since the project received funding, you can also check out their Facebook page.