By Asha Kreiling
I am preparing to move across the country in the next few months, so I’ve been slowly trying rid myself of some unnecessary belongings to make my move a little easier. Most of my stuff isn’t really valuable in the monetary sense, so there’s no point in trying to sell it. But I also don’t want to toss my usable goods into the trash and clog up my local landfill.
Donating to a thrift store is an option, but I’m afraid my obscure things would just sit on the shelves collecting dust. I could also put out a free box in front of my house, but waiting for an interested soul to walk by and pick through my stuff doesn’t really appeal to me. And I have used the “free stuff” page on craigslist, but I always seem to have challenges scheduling pick up times with people and dealing with those who fail to show up. So, last week I joined my local Freecycle group, and I’ve become really excited about this growing movement to give and receive things for free, all the while reducing waste and building community.
Driven by volunteers, Freecycle.org is a grassroots, non-profit network that connects people getting rid of stuff with people who could use it. Freecycle began as a small network in Tucson, Arizona, and now has spread across the world to 85 different countries. Freecycle is broken into small, local groups, so all the members in a particular group live in a certain area. I like this because the members in my group often live within walking distance or a short drive from me, so they’re not traveling long distances and wasting gasoline, and they’re more reliable with picking up items. It is completely free to join Freecycle, and it is always free to give and receive.
Once you become a member, you’ll be able to post an “Offer” for your group to see, which should include a description of the free item, your location; and, if you like, you can also post photos. Interested members will email you and then it’s up to you to arrange a pick up. Once someone has taken the item(s) off your hands, or if someone has claimed it, you post “Taken” to let everyone know it is no longer available. You can even post a “Wanted” ad for something you would like that your fellow group members may have and be willing to give you, and then a “Received” notice if you get it.
There are posts for everything from old dog bowls and tupperware to coffee tables and clothes. My first post was an offer for a bag of used markers and crayons that I had no use for. I was amazed to receive nearly a dozen emails from interested Freecyclers, and in a few hours, someone picked them up. It’s nice knowing that someone benefited from something of mine that was just taking up space in my room.
While many members may love freecycling just for the chance to get some free stuff, the real beauty of the freecycling movement is its ability to build community and promote environmental sustainability through the sharing and reusing of goods. Our junk is spared from landfills, and our still usable belongings can find new homes. With freecycling, we buy less and we waste less, and we realize that many of the resources we need can be obtained through the generosity of our neighbors.
Learn more and start freecycling! http://www.freecycle.org/