The push-back against rampant consumer culture has some new, mechanical muscle: the Swap-O-Matic vending machine, which distributes recycled goods among its users free of cost.
Designed by Lina Fenequito -- a Parsons School of Design graduate -- and detailed over at FastCompany, the machine operates using items donated by some users and then snapped up by others.
Donors' accounts are given "credits" every time they add to the machine’s inventory; they can then "spend" the credits on others’ castoffs.
The technology is part of an ongoing boom in unconventional vending machines that sell more than snacks and sodas. In the last few months, machines that can bake a pizza in 90 seconds and dispense fresh meat have debuted in the U.S.
But the Swap-O-Matic draws inspiration from the same philosophy of reuse that compels sharing ventures such as Swap.com and Freecycle.
Other organizations are also embracing a more sparing lifestyle, in the mold of cooperatives. One business, Hey Let’s Split It, connects users who want to go in together on deals at bulk retailers in order to save money and avoid waste. The company also helps users donate excess products to charities.
At the moment, Swap-O-Matic is making appearances around New York.