Remember when you were younger and you used to trade clothes with your friends? Or CDs? Or books? Well, here’s a new trend that’s popping up: Swapping these items with strangers!

According to MSNBC.com, today’s tough economy has caused people to cut back on how much they spend at stores: Apparel sales declined about 10 percent in the first three months of the year. So, instead of shopping, people have started swapping. In fact, thanks to the internet, swaps among strangers are cropping up in bars, schools, garages, and churches.

Meetup.com – a web site that helps users organize local groups for people with common interests – has over 40 clothing swap groups, up from 13 a year ago! While many swaps are organized between friends and neighbors, there are websites – like swaptree.com and paperbackswap.com – that help people trade old CDs, books, and video games online.

So how do they work? Basically, you bring something before you take something, and money never changes hands. Some swaps are formal affairs – where items are passed along and tried on. If more than one person is interested in an item, the group votes on whom it looks best. Other swaps are more casual - everyone just digs through piles for what they want and leftovers are generally donated to charity. People aren’t just swapping clothes. They’re trading DVDs, books, toys, and even house plants and garden seeds! One person mentioned in the article organizes plant swaps twice a year. She said about 95 people showed up to the first one she held in 2007. Now, it’s up to 300 people!