What is a nature exchange?
Do you collect little treasures from nature? Maybe pick up a beautiful shell and put it in your pocket?
A nature exchange involves creating a little collection of nature treasures like these especially for an exchange buddy. It's a bit like having a pen pal for a season, but a whole heap better!
How does an exchange work?
We organise one exchange each season. To be part of an exchange, purchase the exchange in the shop and complete your details in a web form we send you. We'll match you up with someone or a family from a similar age group in a different region of Australia. We'll then provide you with the details of your exchange buddy, and all the info you need to know about where you can collect, what to collect, what not to collect, biosecurity contacts, how to exchange your collection with your buddy, and what to do once you receive your collection.
Once you've committed to be part of an exchange go on a nature adventure. Collect the unique, weird and wonderful nature items you stumble on. Take them home, examine them, journal them if you want, research what each item is, check that they are safe to send (we provide you with the details and contacts) and then label them if possible and pack them up to send off to your exchange buddy. You might also include other bits of information about your environment for example maps or wildlife flyers, or even a letter about what you love about your environment. When you compile a nature collection it's very hard not to fall in love!
Then you just need to post the package by the postage deadline and eagerly await yours to arrive! It's incredible being able to explore someone else's nature treasurers and get to know a completely different environment without even going on holiday. There are so many learning opportunities in both curating and receiving a collection and so much to love.
Are the exchanges just for kids?
Not at all! We started Nature Lovers because our whole family loves nature! Receiving a collection of items as part of an exchange is the best gift ever. When you commit to participate by purchasing a seasonal exchange we ask you to complete a web form with your age group and location. If you're an adult we'll aim to match you with another adult rather than a family or child.
Do I continue to exchange with the same buddy after my first exchange?
That's up to you! You can continue to exchange with the same buddy if you strike up a friendship, but Nature Lovers seasonal exchanges are designed so that you get a new buddy each season so that you can continue learning about different environments.
What does the $10 exchange sign up fee cover?
As part of the exchange you will receive the contact details for your buddy (the person you will exchange a nature collection with), and information on timings, where to collect, what to include in your collection, cleaning tips and what to do with your collection when you receive it.
We charge this small fee to contribute to our online costs.
Who pays for the packing and postage costs?
You pay for the packaging and posting of the collection you put together. It is up to you and your exchange buddy if you add tracking to your parcel, but we recommend adding it and providing your buddy the tracking number.
Do we have to be careful about what we send interstate?
Yes. All states care about protecting their agriculture industry and preventing the spread of pests and diseases. Part of participating in a nature exchange is learning about an environment different to our own, and part of that involves biosecurity. When you sign up we provide you with information on what to collect and what not to include and provide contact details for biosecurity departments in your and your buddy's state, so we can protect our environment and be good environmental stewards. Shells, seed pods, rocks, lichens, leaves, flowers and a range of other treasures are usually fine to include. Tasmania and Western Australia have stringent biosecurity regulations, so for exchanges with those states you need to be a bit creative. For example you could include include impressions in clay, sun prints, photographs, maps, species information or other crafty solutions to excluded natural items.
Are there any examples of collections from previous exchanges we can see?
There sure are. If you jump over to our Instagram account you'll find some pictures in the history there and there are some testimonials on our Share page. When you do an exchange with us we love it if you share your experience and some photos with us, but we also understand and respect that some people prefer to have a private profile.