Freecycle: keeping the landfills emptier

5 10 2011

I’ve been thinking of changing the name of this blog to SleepDeprivedMom or MommySeriouslyCouldUseSomeSleep, but that would not be concordant with the green living theme we have going on here.

Today I wanted to talk about Freecycle. Freecycle is a local community-based group that has as its main objective to keep usable things out of the landfills. We are living in a society that uses and discards a lot of things that still have their fair share of use in them, sadly, if you take a look at the dumpsters of your neighbourhood you will see furniture, electronics, clothes, etc. many times rotting away int he rain, while there is nothing wrong with them. The idea behind Freecycle is that someone else could use what you don’t need anymore and keep it out of the landfills.

Not only it has an ecological basis, there is an economical basis too,  since the premise is that everything has to be given away for free, no charging, no exchanging either (though they emphasize that their main goal is not to get stuff for free, but to keep stuff out of the landfills). Oh! Yes, there is also a convenience factor, such as you can give away things you cannot bring with you to your next house or you that just don’t want anymore, and people will pick up from your house! Of course the quality of the things will depend largely on the standard of living of your community, but I find that people are quite honest about the condition of the items they are giving away. There might be someone out there that like to refurbish computers or redo upholstery.

How does it work? You join your local Freecycle network on yahoo groups and receive emails with the tings that are being offered or wanted. Some communities have a rule that you have to give first, before asking to receive, however you can receive from someone that is offering.  Make sure you read the rules of your community and it’s all good! We have received wonderful furniture: a desk, bookshelves, a bed frame, a vintage dresser with a matching end table, all in good shape. Also as importantly I have given away furniture, paintings, clothes, miscellaneous small items. It is nice to know that not only my still in good shape clothes are not in a dumpster or rotting (or worse, not rotting!) in the landfills and that some new college student could get started with a kitchen set.

Things to keep in mind:

You will be dealing with strangers, so be safe, do not put yourself or your family in risk.

Sometimes people are irresponsible and they would not show up to pick up something, leaving you waiting forever. I find that saying in the original message that you will report “no shows” takes care of this quite well, since “no shows” can be banned from the network.

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I find this is a great way to get started for a young couple or a college student, not to mention to help those that need it too! Go ahead and check your local Freecycle, maybe what you were planning to put in the trashcan could have a second life!

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