Do you Freecycle?

I like the “three r’s” campaign which expands recycling to:  reduce, reuse, recycle.  We’ve been recycling for years, but more recently I’ve been looking for ways to reuse.  “Borrow what you need, give what you have”, they say.  I’ve been looking for ways to give away the ton of unused–but not useless–stuff that we’ve accumulated.

For giving and getting books, I recommend BookMooch. This site provides a forum for listing your books and searching for others’.  If someone requests one of your books, you send it to them on your dime (about $2.50 via media mail for a normal size book), and get one point.  Send it overseas and get three points.  You can then spend those points on any of the other books that are offered by requesting them from the BookMooch site, which will forward the request to the owner (who will pay the shipping).   The site itself has no role in the trade beyond tracking points and providing a way to search.  It’s a very effective system for swapping certain types of books.

For giving and getting general merchandise, I can go to Goodwill, but I’ve never been very confident in the effectiveness of Goodwill.  Often times the drop-off location looks like a dump, and a dumpster is usually nearby.  I’m just not sure the things I drop off end up with someone who needs them.  Enter Freecycle.

Freecycle is a network of Yahoo Groups sites where you can post offers to give away just about anything.  The sites are set up around geographic areas: the Peoria site covers the city and surrounding counties.  The rules state that the recipient is responsible for picking up the item, and that there is to be no money involved in the transaction.  Why Freecycle and not eBay?  Mainly because it’s simpler and quicker.  You don’t need to post an elaborate ad, wait for the auction to expire, and handle the money and shipping issues.  Freecycle is a simple way to give things away to people in your area who want them now.  And it’s been very effective for me.  I’ve offered up an old scanner, computer, and an end table.  In each case there were many interested parties, and I just chose someone who was willing to pick the item up quickly and would accommodate my work schedule.  I’ve had no problems with any of the exchanges, and it’s very satisfying handing over some perfectly good item (that I don’t need anymore) to someone who can actually use it.

Give these two sites a try and help reduce the world’s junk.

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