Environmental News Archive

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Online barter exchange sites gain popularity

By Ng Jing Yng, TODAY
02 April 2008

SINGAPORE: It's an online exchange site that allows you to trade your unwanted items for someone else's — and it is part of a growing Web community that believes in cash-free recycling.

While auction sites like eBay have long allowed people to sell off their second-hand stuff, YouSwop.com abides by the ancient practice of barter trading that does away with hard cash.

Such barter sites have been gaining a following — on www.u-exchange.com, for instance, users trade across countries on items ranging from clothes to garden appliances.

YouSwop, launched last August, already lists more than 6,000 registered users who post photographs of items they wish to trade for virtual credits or "YS dollars". Each member tags a value to his or her item and can use credits earned to "purchase" items from other members.

But how does this system compare to the popular Singapore Freecycle, or SgFreecycle, where users simply give away their used items freely?

Items put up for offer on the two-year-old site range from baby clothing to computer accessories and household furniture, and interested parties can contact the person making the offer to collect the items.

According to the moderator of SgFreecycle, 30-year-old Varun Arora, a recent poll was conducted on whether bartering should be allowed. Members did not subscribe to the idea.

"While YouSwop might be an alternative for some, the vast majority who give away items on SgFreecycle do so with altruistic motives and not because they want something in exchange," said Mr Arora.

Secretary Gerry Khoo, 30, who has been using both sites for six months, says each serves a different purpose. "But in both cases, I felt that the items would benefit someone else who really needed them."

According to one of YouSwop's three creators, Mr Patrick Lim, 33, using virtual credits for bartering purposes makes for easier exchange and fair play for both buyer and seller.

The idea was sparked off by Mr Lim's wife, who had too many items that were rarely used and taking up storage space.

"Initially, we just wanted to have a platform which enabled us to swap for things that we need," said Mr Lim. He now hopes the site will help save the environment by recycling unused items. - TODAY/sh