First swap market big success

Jen Jacobs (back) was thrilled to see her old white teddy find a good new home with Tombaye Hoy, pictured here with mum Jo and brother Fynian, at the Byron Shire Swap Market.
Jen Jacobs (back) was thrilled to see her old white teddy find a good new home with Tombaye Hoy, pictured here with mum Jo and brother Fynian, at the Byron Shire Swap Market.
It was a bit like going to a garage sale, grabbing a few bargains, then leaving without paying – that was the fun of the first ever Byron Shire Swap Market outside the Council Chambers in Mullumbimby last Saturday to mark World Climate Action Day.

But while no money changed hands, once-loved and no-longer-needed treasures did – in a big way.

Just about everything but the kitchen sink seemed to be there, on tables or hanging on racks, and lucky earlybird swappers swooped to grab the pink stool, the decoupage tray, the coffee-table-sized “What bird is that?”, the arty light fitting and the cat carry-box.

Mayor Cr Jan Barham, who officially opened the swap, said the idea of exchanging was a modern interpretation of the old way of hand-me-downs.

“It’s a great way of reducing waste, for it gives people the opportunity of swapping their unwanted goods, rather than letting them go to landfill,” Cr Barham said.

And with the cry of ‘Let the swap begin’, it was every man and woman to the treasure they had been eyeing off, with Mayor Jan first away with a stylish pair of shoes she had snapped up, a perfect match for her black and white “think outside the bin” T-shirt.

Many of the pre-loved treasures came with stories attached.

For local Jen Jacobs, it was finally the right time to let go of the teddy bear that an old boyfriend had given her in 1994.

“I didn’t want to keep him,” she said.

“But I wanted him to go to a good home.”

Jen put big ted down on the toy table and walked away, but a bit later she came past again and there was young Tombaye Hoy saying something to his mother that was music to Jen’s ears.

 “I was just rapt when this little boy said he wanted my teddy,” she said.

The Swap Market was the initiative of Byron Shire Council sustainability officer Graeme Williams, who had seen the model for it in Planet Ark and decided to be the first in the region to apply it.

“It’s about the community coming together and sharing resources,” he explained, “and about seeing that we don’t necessarily have to buy things, that as a community we can look after ourselves.”

Graeme was very happy at the response to the experiment, estimating about 200 people passing through in the first hour, with late swappers continually arriving.

“I’m overwhelmed at the response of the community – it’s so inspiring,” he said.

The Swap Market also saw the staging of a local seed swap with Byron Hinterland Seed Savers, composting demonstrations with the North East Waste Forum, and a barbecue fund-raiser from the Mullumbimby Community Garden catering team.

At the end of the day all un-swapped items were to be donated to The Salvation Army in Byron Bay.

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