Monday, March 13, 2006

A few months ago, I was musing to a colleague of mine that there were things that I did not want to throw out, but I really wanted to get rid of them because they were simply cluttering up my house. She responded by telling me about Freecycle. Freecycle is a grassroots effort to limit the amount of junk that is put in our landfills. The method is very simple and brilliant. Through online resources people offer things that they no longer want and other folks pick up the items. The key is that it all must be free. No monetary offers are allowed.

The way that it works is that people post items to a local freecycle group. Others read the list of items and offer to take the items off of the hands of the ones making the offer. As of now, there are close to 3,500 local groups established for localities in the U.S. and in several other countries.

I went ahead a signed up for an email distribution which allows me to see the items that are being offered and to post items which I would like to offer. Of course, personally, I have no interest in getting any more items. Instead, I am interested in posting items to clear out the unwanted items which are taking up space. And I have enjoyed some success in getting rid of an old photocopier which worked, but needed a new, expensive toner cartridge and two printers, one which might work with some repair work and another which works quite well. I might have been able to sell the one printer which worked, but, in terms of time to sell it, I probably would have broken even, at best, when I finally sold it. Of course, the other two items would probably never have sold. Who wants to buy something that "might work"?

The effort due to Freecycle is minimal. After someone agrees to take the item, typically an arrangement is made for the item to be picked up by the person who wants it. The most work that the person who offered the item has to do is often select among the several people who want to take the item.

It is, however, interesting to take a look at the list to see what items people are offering and accepting. I have been amazed at what people will give and take. As I look at recent items which have been taken, I see pressure treated lumber, children's soccer boots, a tricycle, and rug shampoo. There have also been offers of washers and dryers, aquariums, and some expensive baby items which were in full working condition. In addition, I have also seen plenty of broken items and other items that would be destined for the landfill simply because no one would ever be able to figure out how to find someone who would want the item. Many times someone wants those items, as well. As the saying goes, one man's trash is another man's treasure.

As trite as this might sound, I have to say that it is nice to see a community-based effort like this work well. It gives me hope that people are able to work together for good.

Posted by David at 5:54 AM  |  Comments (1)  | Link


We have a local Freecycle list here. We have both given and received from it.

By Anonymous Dave, at March 13, 2006 1:18 PM  

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