Stakeholders in regions like Latin America are abandoning practices such as reuse, renting, and swapping in favour of more linear approaches to consumption. For example, developing countries' trade negotiators openly oppose the inclusion of used, remanufactured and refurbished goods in trade agreements. Consumer demand for repair and maintenance services has decreased, as they prefer to buy new products. These trends are problematic because they translate into an increased demand for raw materials and larger amounts of waste that result in higher environmental impacts.
The loss of sharing practices in middle and low-income countries needs to be counteracted if a successful transition to a circular economy is to be achieved. Such endeavour requires a deep understanding of what these practices are, how they develop and why do they transform. Given the situated character of this phenomenon, it is essential to study cases that provide sufficient insights into the elements, the linkages and context. Most of the case studies on sharing practices have been conducted in the context of high-income countries, ignoring middle and low economies where demand for resources is expected to grow the most.
This paper addresses this gap by exploring a case study from Colombia on how a particular sharing practice, clothes swapping, has recently evolved and what has been done to sustain it. By using a survey and semi-structured interviews, the study collected data from participants involved in a long-standing initiative to promote swapping. The study describes the elements constituting the practice of exchanging and the process through which participants decided to get involved or abandon it and the particular context in which the practice was situated. The paper contributes to the understanding of sharing practices as a critical element for the transition towards a circular economy and practices by offering a case study from a middle-income economy.