Put away your wallets and join Bunz Trading Zone

You can barter, borrow and share in a new economy that's inspiring innovators and kissing cash and credit cards goodbye

Sharing has become a movement in Toronto. We’re loaning, trading, swapping, donating, giving and borrowing more than ever before. You can point to many factors behind the trend: the high cost of living, our lack of square footage and outdoor space, the hustle necessary to get by in a city full of precarious jobs and a tech-savvy but low-income creative class with easy access to social media. 

In other words, the struggle is real. And we’re tackling it in innovative ways that keep the health of the planet and community-building top of mind. Some are calling it a full-on economic revolution. The future is sharing, and thanks to Bunz Trading Zones, food-sharing initiatives, free markets and myriad new lending libraries – tools! kitchen stuff! camping gear! guitars! – Toronto is leading the way.


What began three years ago when a broke Emily Bitze asked her buddies on Facebook for ingredients for a pasta dinner is now as much a part of the fabric of Toronto as Trinity Bellwoods Park beers or an Honest Ed’s sign sale.

By now, many know about what was once an open secret: Bunz Trading Zone, an invite-only Facebook group where you can swap pretty much everything for anything, as long as it isn’t cash. (TTC tokens and tallboys of beer have been adopted as the unofficial currency gift cards fall into an ethical grey area.)

The group grew to a 46,000-member (and counting) community, eventually launching numerous special-interest spinoff groups (including Home Zone, Makeup Zone, Pets Zone, Dating Zone and Hiking Zone).

When an angel investor came on the scene last year, Bunz hit the big time, launching an app for iOS and Android and finally making that trading platform accessible to all of Toronto and beyond.

Though Bitze, along with the rest of the team at the newly minted downtown Bunz HQ, is figuring out the best way to monetize the new platform, the social microcosm of the original Bunz Facebook group is still alive and well. Since most of us don’t have 46,000 Facebook friends, the group has become a popular forum for calls for community action, lost-and-found items and general local weirdness.

Here are some of the group’s all-time most memorable posts.


  • Seven expired hams, which a Bunz user purchased “with the intention of meat-sliming” a former employer who was withholding his pay. (The exact method of “meat-sliming” was not divulged.)
  • Used (and thoroughly cleaned) sex toys and menstrual cups, which are so common, and so reliably controversial, that they’ve become a running gag.
  • The sign from College Street bar Rancho Relaxo, which was traded by the bar’s then co-owner, Davy Love, for a pizza.
  • Human teeth.
  • Breast milk.
  • A homemade coffee table featuring a life-size Han Solo in carbonite.
  • Someone’s cut-off dreadlocks.
  • Ten industrial-sized boxes of Mr. Freeze popsicles.
  • A school bus.
  • A 20-litre tub of mayonnaise.

ISO (Bunz for “in search of”)

  • A replacement for a roommate’s vibrator, which the poster’s dog chewed to death.
  • Someone to strip at a baby shower.
  • Dead animals for taxidermy. 
  • A group of pugs for a boyfriend to hang out with as a birthday surprise. (The pugs showed up, and he was indeed delighted.)


  • A granddaughter looking for a stand mixer for her grandma, who frequently baked for the whole neighbourhood.
  • Furniture and housewares donated for Syrian refugees.
  • Countless pets, stolen bikes and sets of keys reunited with their owners.

Get the rest of our Free at Last package here.

Correction: The Bunz app no longer requires a passcode.

nataliam@nowtoronto.com | @nataliamanzocco

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