'Bunz' trading group brings peer-to-peer swaps to Montreal

Curtains for plywood. Internet modems for cookies. On the Bunz Trading Zone Facebook group, there's almost nothing you can't trade.

No money allowed on Facebook bartering group, only items or services

Elise Windsor browses the Bunz Trading Group at her home in Saint-Henri. (CBC)

Curtains for plywood. Dried beans for toothpaste. Internet modems for cookies. On the Bunz Trading Zone Facebook group, there's almost nothing you can't trade. There are only two rules: you can't trade anything illegal, and you can't offer money.

"There are plenty of sites for buying and selling like Kijiji and Craigslist," says group administrator Maryanna Hardy. But for direct bartering, the options are slimmer.

Hardy based the group on a similar one in Toronto, also called Bunz Trading Zone. A handful of other Bunz groups exist for other Canadian cities as well.

I think it fosters more of a sense of community thanjust going to a store.- Cameron Nixon, Bunz member

"I moved into an apartment full of stuff from the previous tenant and decided to start a Montreal chapter so I could trade those items for things I needed," Hardy said

Each post in the group includes what the member is looking to trade, and what they'd like in return.

New member Tricia Robinson has just completed her first trade: charcoal for drawing for a book. She's already prepared a pile in her apartment of things she wants to trade.

"The things I have here are a pair of shoes that don't really fit me, a book, and some local beeswax from Ontario. Things I'm looking for... I'm always open to food, wine's great, or just art supplies."

Members can also offer services in exchange. Some posts ask for a ride to the airport or for help moving furniture. Another offered stick-and-poke tattoos.

'Would anyone be willing to lend us their cat?!?!'

There's little limit to what members are seeking to trade. One asked to borrow someone's cat in order to scare away the mice in her apartment. Another posted about a pizza that she ordered – and couldn't eat – asking if anyone wanted to come by and have some.

For Elise Windsor, trades are always preferable to tossing things or donating them.

"Sometimes when it goes to the Salvation Army you don't know what's going to happen to it... It's so much more of a satisfaction to put it in someone's hands who you know is going to use it right away," she said. "You just know it's going to be used again, and to have a second life."

Member Cameron Nixon has done about 10 trades so far, including bartering away a collection of lava lamps and trading a number of CDs for a shoebox of homemade muffins.

"I get the idea that it's sort of a more personal thing. You can have this interaction with a human who you meet. I think it fosters more of a sense of community than just going to a store," Nixon said.

"It's about meeting people who I normally wouldn't," said Windsor. "These are people who like the idea of passing things around, and not putting things in the garbage."