Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Day Seventeen - One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure

Using Freecycle to Keep Stuff Out of Landfills

I hope you all know about Freecycle! If not, you're about to learn. Freecycle is a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer and membership is totally free. The Freecycle Network was started in May 2003 to promote waste reduction in Tucson's downtown and help save desert landscape from being taken over by landfills. Since then, it has grown by leaps and bounds and now boasts over 4,000 communities with 3,540,995 members.

Here's how it works. Say you've got an old chair or mirror or 1,000 feet of aluminum foil that you're about to throw away. Instead, you log on to your local freecycle group and post an OFFER. Next thing you know, you've got a dozen emails from people who would LOVE to take you chair, mirror or foil. You can also post WANTED items, if there's something you're looking to pick up.

Anyhow, last year I threw roughly 100 pounds of fabric scraps in the trash (I sew part time). Thanks to Freecycle, I now have three "regulars" who take these scraps. One uses the larger scraps to sew quilts for charity, another uses them to teach a homeschool class on quilting and the third is just starting her own business making handmade hairbows for little girls. I'm happy to know that instead of contributing to landfills, I'm helping people.

It's amazing too, what types of things get posted and that there always seems to be someone who's willing to take what you've got. From crafters to scrap metal recyclers, there's always a taker for what you've got to give. So check them out and join today.

Savings: At least 100 pounds of fabric, a worn out playset, lots of baby toys, the list goes on and on. I'd say I've freereycled about 500 pounds of "stuff" this year. Not all of it necessarily would have been destined for the landfill, but I'd say, conservatively 200 pounds would have been. That's a pretty nice savings. If only 10 other people did that, it would save A TON (literally) of trash each year.

Difficulty Level: 1 out of 5

Once you find your local Freecycle group, you just post, arrange for pickup and be done with it. You can also find an occassional nugget for yourself - totally guilt free because it's FREE and it's RECYCLING! Let me know how it works out for you :-)

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