As I have mentioned previously, I hate waste. The thought of sending something off to the landfill when it could be recycled and repurposed into something else makes my little heart sink. Almost as much as the thought of leaving said item here to clutter up my house. I hate waste and I hate clutter. So what's a girl to do? What's anyone to do when they get a new television, and the old one is still functional, but not really worth selling to anyone? What do you do when you pretty up your kitchen with a new kitchen tap (faucet, to those of you who don't speak my language) but the old one is in perfectly good condition?
Freecycle describes itself as "a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns." Basically, it's Craig's List, or the classified ads, without the money transaction. And I love it with all of my young girl heart.
Mostly we use it to get rid of stuff we don't need anymore: televisions, old stereos, a rice cooker than needed new fuses, etc. One of my very favourites was when our old, fake Christmas tree went to an old man with a brain tumor who was confined to his bed. His daughter was looking for a tree to decorate his room, so we gave her ours.
Just recently I decided that pregnancy might provide exactly the kind of objectivity that I needed to go through my closet and weed out the things I don't wear anymore. I soon ended up with a big pile of stuff and a much roomier closet. Then I realized that, really, the pile of stuff had just been relocated from my closet to my bed. Clearly, this would be a problem by bedtime. So I went downstairs, pulled out my laptop and posted a quick message to the Spanish Fork freecycle community, informing them that I had a bag of women's clothes up for grabs. Within an hour I had a taker, and had made arrangements for her to come and pick them up. Within 3 hours, they were gone for good. Tadah! Clean closet and warm fuzzies for helping a mother of five without money to spend on herself.
Now. There are a few things to consider about Freecycle.
- Safety, safety, safety. I never say things like "stop by at this time, because I'll be home alone all day" or "We won't be home between these hours." Just because someone says they're a mother of five with no money and a broken leg, doesn't necessarily mean that they're not a 300 lb. man with personal boundary issues. The safest thing is to meet people in a public area, but that's admittedly not always the most convenient. I usually arrange for people to stop by when we're both home, and I always keep whatever they're picking up right by the door so they don't have to come inside.
- More safety. If you're already giving a stranger directions to your house, don't give them your full name, email address and phone number as well. Use a junky email address (think fluffybunnykins at generic email provider dot com). This won't stop a "professional" identity thief, but might keep the eager amateur at bay.
- This is a small one, but most Freecycle communities ask that you give more than you request. A good idea to keep the freecycling moving, but frustrating if you really need something and don't currently have anything to offer.
- Also note that using Freecycle limits donations given to your local thrift stores. I have donated plenty to both and feel like they are both good causes. Thrift stores, like Good Will or Deseret Industries, use the money they make on sales towards humanitarian aid as well as to help their local communities and that is not to be sneezed at. However, a lot of what is donated to them, just gets tossed because it won't sell, or is out of season. Freecycle, on the other hand, allows you to donate whatever you like, with the only restriction being what people are willing to take. DI will likely throw away something that doesn't work well, but a freecycler might want it for parts or to restore themselves.
In our first married, starving student days (and before IKEA came to Utah), we requested things like a bed frame to get our mattress off the floor. When I was relearning how to knit, I got bags and bags of yarn to play around with until I knew what I was doing. Just before we found out I was pregnant, we got a retro awesome desk for our office. Now our office is about to become a nursery, and the desk needs to go to make room for cute little baby things. So we will freecycle it!