Growing Your Green with Freecycle
Are you in the market for a bicycle? Maybe you are expecting and trying to stock up on diapers. Whatever your need, never mind your wallet. Money is not an issue, not even for a laptop or cell phone; not when you subscribe to The Freecycle Network, that is.
In an effort to reduce waste in our world and consumption in our consumer-driven society, The Freecycle Network (www.freecycle.org) sprouted its grassroots in 2003 as a non-profit email-based community devoted to recycling anything and everything from couches to canoes. Today the Freecycle movement spans the globe with over 8 million members in 85 countries. This network of reusers keeps over 500 tons of usable items out of landfills each day. Millions of emails and posts are published daily touting goods and services offered free of charge to anyone willing to accept them. Wanted listings are also posted for members’ specific needs and hankerings, such as those canoes. Common offerings include furniture, kitchen ware, exercise equipment, gardening tools, plants, clothing, books, electronics, jewelry and even food. Uncommon and expensive items are also included in the mix: red wiggler worms and 63 mismatching socks have been offered in close proximity to 19th century antique cutlery. Take your pick.
Freecycle works beautifully for those of us that have ever felt guilty about throwing away a perfectly good toaster or holiday sweater; you can divert your unwanted goods from landfills by passing them along to willing takers. Simply post an “Offer” with your location and an accurate item description, and wait for the interested members to contact you regarding a time and place for pick-up. For those seeking penniless procurement, one can very easily find a new wardrobe or fill up a home solely with Freecycled goods. Items are claimed quickly, so make sure to respond to a post immediately with the day and time you can pick the item up. Since people are naturally partial to certain situations of need, it helps to include a reason for why you would like to have an item. Last year, for instance, I got a breast pump for my sister on Freecycle, not because I was the first to respond to the offer, but because she was pregnant with twins and the offerer also happened to have a set of twin girls.
Major participating metropolises include New York City, London, Mumbai, Warsaw, Barcelona and Japan. If you do not live in a major city, not to worry, as there are currently 4,940 local groups around the world. If you still cannot find your community group you can set one up and even become a moderator.
Of course membership is free, and easy. All it takes is Internet access and a lot of love for the planet, your fellow brethren, and your bank account. Simply go to www.freecycle.org and search for your community. From there you will either be able to post directly on the Freecycle website or be directed to your group’s specific homepage where you will be prompted to create a Yahoo! email account. Once you receive a confirmation email from your group’s moderator you can activate your membership and begin Freecycling your way to eco-friendly savings. If gifting and reusing are simply not enough for you, explore the various ways to volunteer under the site’s “About Freecycle” tab.
Next time you are in the market for a gold-plated birdcage for your pet Umbrella Cockatoo or a mobile home to finally take that cross-country trip you have always dreamed of, grow your green by shopping guilt-free with Freecycle. Your savings account will thank you later.
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