Hi I'm Sharon and on August 30th 2022 I embarked upon quite a strange yet interesting adventure.
I decided to offer a blue plastic button I had no use for on a local zero waste Facebook group in Exeter UK where I live. I was asking if anyone would like to offer me something they no longer needed in return for the button which they could make some use of....
Read on for the rest of this story (so far). If you need my contact details to message me, they're at the bottom of this page.
So back to the story....
Hannah replied to my post on Facebook and offered me a stapler for the button, then Becka told me she really needed a stapler but had a violin she no longer had any use for. I was inundated with people wanting the violin which was surprising as I would have thought it was quite a niche object. Off it went to it’s new home with two musicians and I had a pretty fancy Bean to Cup coffee machine in it’s place.
The coffee machine also proved very popular and yet again, I had a lot of offers, including several cash offers which often led to me having to explain that ‘I simply cannot take cash for the item as I’m doing a cash-free challenge’.
The coffee machine found it’s new home with an artist who responded to a complimentary comment I put on one of her lovely paintings on social media. I had come across Alice Mary having seen her incredible wall murals upstairs in the Exeter Guildhall Shopping Centre.
Alice offered to create an original painting just for my challenge in exchange for the coffee machine and I went up to Bristol to collect the most beautiful painting of Exeter Cathedral.
Ruud then offered me an amazing holiday at his beautiful Mazzard Farm holiday cottages in East Devon in exchange for the Exeter Cathedral painting. I was starting to attract a few followers on social media and they were very excited about a holiday. I even involved them in the decisions asking them what I should choose for the next swap.
The holiday was handed over to Leigh Farmer and her lovely family to enjoy. Leigh is a photographer based in Exeter specialising in company images and she gave me a photo shoot in exchange for the holiday at Mazzard Farm.
An artist in Totnes called Anita Nowinska was interested in the photo shoot as she needed her marketing materials updating on her website. We made the swap live on BBC Radio Devon which was pretty nerve-wracking but exciting. Anita offered a large commissioned painting of whatever the next person would like her to paint for them. We then went on to be featured on local West Country TV on BBC Spotlight.
Lucy made me the best offer for Anita's painting. In exchange for the painting, Lucy gave me a fabulous holiday for at least 8 people at Yonder Meadow near Exeter.
And this takes us to now - I'm on item number 10, an electric bike which is featured here on the home page.
I should explain – this is not my idea. This concept is called the Red Paperclip Challenge which was started by Kyle Macdonald back in 2006 in Canada. Kyle took just over a year and swapped items (from a red paperclip) all the way up to house. This was replicated last year by American Demi Skipper who also reached a house.
I know some people have tried it here in the UK but I don’t think anyone has succeeded in reaching a house yet – but that is my dream !
We are in the situation like many families in the UK where saving for an enormous deposit for our own house is virtually impossible – whilst raising a family and paying rent.
Doing this challenge requires a set of skills which seem to match mine – and it seems to be working so far!
I love that it’s cash-free as it just shows that not everything has to involve money and it really makes you think about the worth of things and what one person thinks is worth a lot, another does not. Bartering has been around for thousands of years so really it’s nothing new!
If you would like to contact me my email is email@example.com
I do most of my updates on Instagram & Facebook. See instagram.com/barterabutton