If Freecycle did not exist, it would need to be invented right away. I found out about it as I was about to move and needed to complete a quick de-cluttering project. We had items, essentially big pieces like furniture and appliances that we did not use anymore and did not want to move along with us to the new place. While packing, we gathered many more unused items we had even forgotten about and because most were still in good shape, some even like new, we needed an easy way to give them a new life, while, if possible, helping out someone in need. With a fast approaching deadline, there was no time to try and sell some, and for others, it just made more sense to give away. Our local Church’s thrift store was a good outlet, but unable to handle or not interested in everything we had. Our pile included desk lamps, mirror, fans, custom handmade shelves, many personal care products (shower gels, shampoos, soaps…), clothes, board games, kitchen ware, baskets, baby food, toys and nursery items, microwave, batteries, old TV set… you get the idea.
As I was looking for an online donation pick-up service I had heard about, I ended up on the Freecycle home page. I quickly located the group closest to our area, and within minutes I had signed up, was confirmed as new member by the moderators, and had started listing free items to offer. With more than 9 million members, Freecycle is a grassroots and nonprofit network of over 5,000 local groups of people who are giving and getting things for free. It is all about reusing and turning what became your trash into someone else’s treasure, and vice-versa. That way, however you see it, whether you give or receive, an item stays out of our landfills. Each group has its etiquette, but as you can see from my list above, with the exception of spouse, pets, children and in-laws, you can get rid and give a new life to pretty much everything. Absolutely free.
Whether you decide to receive a weekly recap of posts (beware, offered items find new homes fast!) or freecyclers’ posts in real time, all you have to do is to abide by a simple set of rules to post what you offer or want, and then follow through when it comes to pick-up as you directly agree on a meet-up place and time with the person picking-up your item or offering you what you are looking for.
I have been a member for many years and only met nice people, willing to share, give and protect the environment, one “thing” at the time. Let me be clear, Freecycle is not a virtual network of hippies (for lack of a better word) or other anti-consumerism fans. Just people who see value in using up things until there is no more life in them, people who prefer the convenience of fast riddance of things they do not need anymore over getting money from selling them, who are simply generous, and who understand that some items are better off rotating and being used than being ignored in someone’s home. It is very convenient for daily items with a limited life span in your home like kids toys and clothes, but also kitchen items, furniture, musical instruments, vintage pieces that take up space for some, but happen to be unbelievable finds for others. It is the place to go if you need a fast pick-up to clear the way. Plus you get to meet refreshingly friendly people, who find happiness in making you happy and willing to dig through their belongings when they know they have something you are looking for and that they do not use. All while making a real difference in the protection of our environment.
I recently pushed the Freecycle logic a step further as I posted and donated recyclable packaging items. I thought, why recycling them now when they can be re-used many times, will actually help out people and possibly save them money ? And that’s how went about 60 dozen egg cartons, as many preserve jars, a bag full of toilet paper rolls and another one full of biodegradable carton produce trays, all freecycled to happy takers. I grew these piles and stored them (about 4 big grocery paper shopping bags at the end) in unused hidden storage at home and made happy a local co-op member, organic farmers and a pre-school teacher. Another easy way to reduce the amount of trash you create, while helping people and feeling good about it. You gotta love Freecycle!
The more I progress in my green journey, as I question every move I make when it comes to getting rid of things, either by discarding or recycling, the less I accept the easy way that is discarding before it really is time to do it.
Do you often Spring (or Fall or any season) clean your home? What do you do with the things you build a “get rid of” pile with?
Do you know Freecycle and do you use it? If not, will you now?