I don’t know what it is about vending machines that I like so much. While some people find them annoying, tacky and full of crap that should never be consumed, I am frequently saved by these handy pantries. The push to get them out of public schools may be well founded but I hope they stay around everywhere else because I think they are fun. Maybe its the child in me but I genuinely enjoy scanning for the tastiest/coolest item in a vending machine, getting rid of annoying change, hitting the right buttons and listening for the thud of the delivered product… I also like finding change in machines that people have forgotten.. you should check, you’d be surprised how much it happens.
To add to my vending machine craze I have now actually discovered what is a New York-based, downright NOBLE use of the machines: vending machines that allow you to donate and receive FREE STUFF. Here’s how it works: When you approach one of these vending machines you enter you email and you are given three credits. Donating an item to the machine gives you a credit, taking an item rids you of one. Easy peasey.
“Creator Lina Fenequito says the goal of Swap-o-Matic is to promote a shift from unconscious consumption to more sustainable living, and hopes the vending machine will show consumers that reusing and recycling can be as fun buying something new.” (Springwise.com)
The giving and receiving of totally free stuff is hardly novel but what is COOL is how this vending machine concept cashes (sorry) in on our human enthusiasm for feeling like we are shopping, like we are consuming. It is a way to tap into our desire for more, more, more and get some do-gooding mileage out of it. Brilliant, huh?
What else could we think of to harness our natural desires so that they accomplish noble causes? Do-gooding is the new social currency, and 2012 needs to be a year of spending in more ways than one. Let it be the year of studied selflessness:)