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Published on September 20th, 2008 | by Guest Contributor


GTR: Reusing Goods Using Online Communities with Zwaggle

GreenTalk Radio host Sean Daily talks tips for parents in buying, exchanging, and reusing goods using web-based communities with blogger Carmen Staicer of

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Sean Daily:  Hi, and welcome to Green Talk, a podcast seriesfrom  Green Talk helps listeners in their efforts to
lead more eco-friendly lifestyles through interviews with top vendors,
authors and experts from around the world.

We discuss the critical issues facing the global environment today,
as well as the technologies, products and practices that you can employ
to go greener in every area of your life.

Hey, everyone, welcome to Green Talk Radio.  This is Sean Daily and
we have an episode today that is on reusing goods using online
communities.  And, one of the first online communities to put this into
effect is

With me, from, is Carmen Staicer, she’s a blogger for and she also has her own personal blog called, and I love
this name,

And, well, first of all, Carmen, welcome to the program.

Carmen Staicer:  Oh, thanks for having me.

Sean Daily:  Well, thanks for being on.  And so, I’d just like to
hear, I want to hear about, you know, the writing that you do both for
Zwaggle and also personally, but why don’t we start with maybe
Zwaggle?   The story there, how you got involved with them?

Carmen Staicer:  Well, Zwaggle is a website that is devoted to
helping people find new homes for their merchandise.  And, being that I
have six children, we have a lot of kid’s merchandise in our house and
we sometimes need to find places to appropriate it.  So, looking around
online, trying to find a recycling area, I came across Zwaggle and it
seemed like a perfect fit for us.

Sean Daily:  Yeah, it’s really quite, I mean, I love the idea, you
know, we’ve done this personally just with our friends and it seems to
me when I saw, when I heard about this I was really excited because
it’s like extending this to – really to the masses.

So, that you, literally, came upon it as a user of the site, is that – is that correct?

Carmen Staicer:  Right, right.

Sean Daily:  So, how did that then sort of transmute over into
becoming a blogger and, you know, a more active community member and
public spokesperson?

Carmen Staicer:  Well, I’m a blogger by nature.  I blog, I have for
five years, about my life with my family.  So, in trying to expand upon
that, I was offered the job with Zwaggle and it’s awesome.  I love it. 
I love to write about ways to connect with other people, pass on your

You know, when you’re in your day-to-day life, you kind of interact with people who have kids the same ages as yours.

Sean Daily:  Yeah.

Carmen Staicer:  And, sometimes you don’t know somebody who could use a highchair.

Sean Daily:  It’s so silly.  We go out and buy everything new, when
your friend may have had a child that’s just exiting the age that your
child’s entering and it just makes so much sense.

Carmen Staicer:  Right, exactly.

Sean Daily:  So now, with – so with Zwaggle, just talking about the
site itself for a while, I mean, it’s kind of funny because these
things that are, quote/unquote, “new,” are really just, you know, in
many cases, revisiting things that have been around for centuries or
millennia, you know.  In some cases, they just make sense.  Is Zwaggle
the first of its kind to really sort of put this together in an online

Carmen Staicer:  Zwaggle took it to the next level where you’re not
interacting just with people in your neighborhood who have the same
ability to acquire the same level of merchandise, but you can interact
with people all over the U.S.  Maybe they have other stores that you
don’t have. We don’t have IKEA in our neighborhood.  The closest IKEA
is 500 miles from me, but I can go on Zwaggle and I can find that
really nifty IKEA booster seat that I’ve had my eye on for a year from
somebody who has it.

Sean Daily:  Yeah, that’s great.  So maybe you could just run us
through, you know, what it’s like to use the system and for somebody
who hasn’t been on before.  Is it simple to use?  What’s the process?

Carmen Staicer:  It’s very, very simple.  You just go to
and you register as a member.  It’s free.  It only takes a minute,
literally, just one minute, and then you just list your things.  When
you first sign up, you are given 50 points, 50 points which we call
“zoints,” on the site.  And that is enough for you to make a couple of
purchases right there.

But you can list the things that you don’t need anymore, the soccer
cleats, the highchair, the baby bouncer, and share those with other
Zwaggle members.  Put a picture up, upload it to the site and you’re

Sean Daily:  Sounds pretty easy.  So, tell me some of the things
that you personally have been able to swap, both put into the Zwaggle
system and then take out some of the examples.

Carmen Staicer:  Okay.  I’ve put probably 40 DVDs in and swapped
those out with other members.  My kids watch a lot of DVDs, but they
get tired of them relatively quickly.  So I swap those in.

I have been able to get quite a few Christmas gifts.  I kind of have
to keep my voice mum on what they are, because my kids might hear me.

Sean Daily:  Sure, understandable.

Carmen Staicer:  But, I’ve gotten some really nice dolls.  I’ve
gotten some video games, some computer games.  It just, it’s been
really nice for me to go on there and buy the things I need.

Sean Daily:  Now, when you say buy, you know, I understand there’s a
point system, I mean, what – how much do items on this Zwaggle
typically cost?

Carmen Staicer:  Well, Zwaggle is free.  There’s no money that
exchanges.  You purchase with your zoints and then when you sell
something, you’re credited zoints.  That means that anyone can join,
regardless of what their income level is.  The average item is about 18
to 20 points.

Sean Daily:  So, I’m just curious.  So, is it, is it, is it pretty
even ratio in terms of the points you’re getting for putting items into
the system, contributing items into the system versus what you’re
pulling out?  Or, is it like American Express, where it’s like I spent
eight gazillion dollars and I get enough points to buy a toaster oven? 
You know?

Carmen Staicer:  Right, right.  No, it’s actually, it’s actually
very, very fair.  It, it – when you plug your item in, it will ask you
for the original purchase price and the condition and then it will
figure what – what zoints you should have  If you don’t agree with
that, you can always modify it.

Sean Daily:  Okay.

Carmen Staicer:  So you could sell something for 20 or for ten or for 40, based upon what you think it’s worth.

Sean Daily:  Now, do you have any statistics about
community, like how many members there are or anything you can share
with our audience?

Carmen Staicer:  Well, Zwaggle is available in all 50 states.  I
don’t think there’s a state that’s not covered right now.  I know that
there’s even members in Alaska and Hawaii, which is awesome.  You can
trade with people that are in your next block or you can trade with
people on the opposite coast.

Sean Daily:  And so how does the actual delivery occur?  What are the logistics behind it?

Carmen Staicer:  When you agree to purchase an item, you will
indicate how you want us to do it.  If the shipper is covering the
payment for the mailing, that’s it.  You can use the Zwaggle site
FedEx, which is really, really easy.  It just walks you straight
through it.  Or, if you don’t want to do the FedEx, you also can do

Sean Daily:  Now, this just makes so much sense to me from so many
standpoints, you know, and I was just talking with Jeff
McIntire-Strasburg, of Green Options – he’s also known as
Sustain-a-Blogger – we were just talking about how these things that
are green, you know, also make economic sense.  And in the current
economic times, which are trying for many, it just makes so much sense,
you know, to do these things for all goods.  But, you know, not just
for things like DVDs but, especially, I think, for things that the kids
grow out of everything.  I mean, you know, need a highchair for, you
know, how much time?  Although, you with six kids, have gotten a lot of
use out of your highchairs, I image.


Carmen Staicer:  Yes, we have a couple of things that we’re not
trading out of yet, but most things, you know, soccer cleats, they wear
them for one season.

Sean Daily:  Yeah.

Carmen Staicer:  And, what are you going to do with them?  You’re
going to keep them in your house.  No, you can trade them out and maybe
next season that child doesn’t want to play soccer, but wants to take
gymnastics and you can use those points to purchase the things you need
for the next sport or the next instrument.

Sean Daily:  And, we’ve seen this with things like, you know, ski
swaps for years.  But, it’s like, why is it relegated to that?  It just
makes so much sense, it should be for everything.  And, you know, we
see things like Play It Again Sports come out, but that’s a commercial
venture, which is ,there’s nothing wrong with that, but, you know
that’s – it’s sort of just this idea – I’ve been waiting for years for
somebody to do this in a larger scale. So, again, I’m very excited to
see this.

And for you again, who are listening in, this is, is the name of the website that we’re talking about today.

And I have a lot more questions for you, Carmen, but we’re going to be taking a quick break and then we will be right back.

And we are talking with Carmen Staicer. She’s a blogger for  They’re an online community to help parents swap gently
used goods.

And we’ll be right back on Green Talk Radio after these messages.


Sean Daily:  Hey, everybody, we’re back on Green Talk Radio.  This is Sean Daily.

I have with me today, Carmen Staicer.  We’re talking – and she is a
blogger for – and we’re talking on the topic of reusing
goods using online communities.

And, we talked to Carmen a little bit before the break
about how it works, you know, the system, the scope and so forth.  You
know, is this only going to work if you’re in or near a major city?

Carmen Staicer:  No, absolutely not.  If you have a computer or access to a computer, you are on Zwaggle.

Sean Daily:  And so, what kind of success do people, say in rural or
suburban areas, typically, have with trying to hook up with other folks
that have goods either on the buying or selling end.

Carmen Staicer.  It’s very hard in the rural communities because you don’t, you don’t have a neighbor…


Carmen Staicer:  …or close by, you know, if you need a booster seat,
you can’t go across the street to your neighbor that had a child and
say, “can I borrow your booster seat?”  And it may be difficult to get
to the store, but you can go online and you can find someone in a big
city that has listed a booster seat and they can pop it in the mail and
send it right to you.

Sean Daily:  So, what has been the response, I mean, you know,
nationwide?  Both, I mean in terms of the press response and – but also
the public and the community response to this?  Are people really
getting into it?  Is it taking off?

Carmen Staicer:  It has really blossomed.  It’s a gratifying thing
to see.  People want to find a place to put their items, not just – not
in a landfill, not to just send them somewhere, but to put them in the
hands of the  people who need them and the people who want them.

Sean Daily:  Yeah.  And it’s, you know, it’s just fascinating to me
that this has taken so long, quite frankly, to come about.  And I guess
one of the ways that we’ll know if this is really taking off is really
like competitors is really what confirms the space oddly enough.  And
is starting to see anybody coming to the space, similar
websites or community sites?

Carmen Staicer:  I’ve seen a couple.  Yeah, I’ve seen a couple.  I don’t want to give them any extra press.

Sean Daily:  Yeah, I know.  I understand.  I’m just curious because,
again, that’s sort of what confirms, you know, whether or not a concept
is taking off and, certainly, this is one we hope to see take off
because it makes so much sense, again, on all levels.

So, can you explain, I know there’s a charity component of Zwaggle.  Can you explain how that works?

Carmen Staicer:  Right.  Giving back to the community is really
important.  So we allow the members who maybe have extra zoints that
they’re not going to use, to donate them to a local or national partner.

We have partners, we have 20 Head Start chapters that we’re
partnered with.  If you want, you can donate your zoints and take a tax
deduction, which is a really great thing to remember for tax season.

Sean Daily:  Yup, absolutely.

So now, I’m curious, Carmen, tell me a little bit about on the
personal side, “Mom to the Screaming Masses,” you’ve been doing this
quite a while, so you’re one of the sort of the long-term green
bloggers, and I’d love to hear about the story.  Whatever you’d be
willing to share about how that started and the kinds of things that
you’ve covered in your community on that site.

Carmen Staicer:  I have six kids and I’ve been blogging since I had
my fourth child, kind of as a way to get out of my own, my own shell. 
I blog an awful lot about my life with my kids.  We deal with some
pretty major ranging things.

I have preschoolers up to high-schoolers.  And one thing that I
recently blogged about, which got a lot of really positive feedback,
was the fact that we switched from reusable water bottles to SIGG
bottles, because I have kids that play soccer, kids that play football
and cross country.  Now we would go to a lot of those and now we use
just the SIGG bottles, which has been a really, really positive benefit
for us.

Sean Daily:  Not to interrupt, but I just was going to say, it’s
funny you said that, because I just ran and bought SIGG bottles.  I
should say rebought.  SIGG bottles are great until the kids lose them
like my kids just did and I had to go buy…

Hey, but this time, instead of the pirate water bottle, which was
good when he was four, now he’s got the dragon water bottle, so, oh
well.  Yes, they are very cool.

Carmen Staicer:  We bought all solid colors so they’re all very
boring.  Nobody wants them, but they all have a solid bottle. 
Actually, I bought a dozen of them; I figure two per kid, they can lose
one and still have one.

Sean Daily:  Yeah, yeah.  I’ve often wanted to go off and just buy,
you know, SIGG bottles for the entire school, you know, because it just
you see these kids with those – the ones that are leeching all kinds of
awful things and, you know, it’s just…

Carmen Staicer:  Right, right.

Sean Daily:  …I hate seeing that in anybody’s child because, you
know, I’ve had enough interviews now to know what actually goes in the
endocrine disruptors.  And, it’s just very, very scary, you know, when
you see that and you know that that’s happening.

Carmen Staicer:  Oh, it really is.  It’s awful.

Sean Daily:  So what else, other than that, what are you up to?  Do
you have a – what are you doing in terms of monthly unique visitors?

Carmen Staicer:  I try to stay away from that because I tend to get
bogged down in how many people are coming and who’s new and who’s not
and I really just want to be able to write.

I mainly blog to let other people know that, you know, hey,
parenting is really hard for everyone and these are things that have
worked me and these are things that have not worked for me.  And, by
the way, you know, we struggle with the same issues as you.  Just to
kind of give another person a feeling of I’m not in this alone.

Sean Daily:  Yeah, that’s great.  I see, I mean, the comments are
amazing.  I’m looking at your site right now.  I mean, you’ve got, you
know, recent articles, there’s 65 comments.  I mean that’s  pretty
unheard of.  I mean, even Digg articles are hard put to get 30 or 40
comments, so that’s pretty impressive.

Have you really – has this site and writing on this site really
helped you connect with people that you might not have otherwise met?

Carmen Staicer:  It really has.  I’ve made some tremendous friends. 
I have great friendships all over the United States, people I would
have never known.  But, I’m so, so blessed to know now.

Sean Daily:  Yeah, well that’s wonderful.  That’s a great, very
inspiring story.  And we all wish you much continued success with both
the site as well as the Mom to the Screaming Masses blog as
well.  Yeah…

Carmen Staicer:  Thank you.

Sean Daily:  And so, my guest, again today, has been Carmen
Staicer.  She is a blogger, mother of six and she writes for the site as well as for her own site, which is

And, again, really appreciate you being on the program today and sharing all this information with our listeners.

Carmen Staicer:  Great.  Thanks for having me.  It was so much fun.

Sean Daily:  Thanks as always to everyone listening in today. 
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