Here’s a simple, fun, free thing you can do to help save the planet: Visit http://www.freecycle.org and join the group nearest you.
Freecycling, the best idea we've come across in a long while, uses the Internet and email to make it easy for people to find new homes for perfectly good things they no longer want - be it furniture, computers, roofing tiles, children's toys, or a chest freezer. Freecyclers can also ask for things they do want – got a child's alto sax, or a dining room table, or an air compressor you no longer need? (Our town's fire department needs that air compressor.)
Today, more than 570,000 freecyclers have joined over 1,660 locally run groups around the world, with new groups being formed every day. Freecycle members communicate by email, and arrange for convenient pick-ups for freecycled treasures. There's only one rule: Everything has to be free, legal, and appropriate for all ages. Based on current estimates, freecycling is keeping more than 15 million pounds a year of perfectly reusable items out of landfills! That's over 20 tons a day.
Twenty Tons and How Did It Start?
Deron Beal came up with the freecycling concept in Tucson, AZ, in May, 2003. His “day job” is with Rise, Inc., a Tucson nonprofit that picks up the recycling from downtown businesses and gives “transitional” jobs to ex-offenders. Some of these businesses began offering Rise their old office equipment. Deron couldn't resist. He took the donations and then called around to find nonprofits that could use them. As things piled up, Deron set up an email group.
Soon, his group had hundreds of members, and Deron realized that he was on to something. So he launched http://www.freecycle.org in May of 2003, and included instructions on how people could start their own local groups. He also set up “The Mod Squad,” an online forum where the “moderators” (leaders) of local groups share ideas, debate policy, plan for the future of Freecycle.org, beyond the Yahoo platform, etc.
Many of us “mods” pitch in with PR, and to help the “newbies,” but Deron is the leader and final arbiter. Although it makes him uncomfortable, many of us swear by this motto: “WWDD?” (What Would Deron Do?!)
Deron spends his evenings and weekends running Freecycle ... dealing with all the issues that the phenomenal growth rate has caused, doing media interviews left and right, etc. ... and driving around Tucson picking up stuff for the recycling bin during the day.
When we first visited Freecycle.org, there wasn't a group in our region. So we followed the simple instructions Deron gives on the Web site, and started HudsonValleyFreecycle. As of this writing, over 1,440 freecyclers in our region have signed up to recycle items rather than throw them away.
Offerings have included entertainment centers, dining room sets, outdoor swing sets, a couch that would be "excellent for retro-style interior," computer equipment, air conditioners, an antique concrete bench, baby furniture, gas grills -- even a tame rat snake and a 1988 Ego Spectrum. Members have been looking for everything from a sandbox and a canoe to snorkeling gear and an alto saxophone.
Freecycling takes the concept of recycling way beyond the typical plastic and glass jars, cans, newspapers, and the like. It's a great way to reduce waste and ease the burden on our landfills - while you declutter, spring clean, and get to know some kindred spirits. Plus, you'll have a good time in the process.
Visit http://www.freecycle.org to find the freecycle group in your area.
Three Cheers for Deron!
We all owe Deron Beal a huge debt of gratitude -- literally 20 tons a day -- for coming up with a great idea, for helping people around the world set up freecycle chapters, and for making it a lot more fun to live better on less.
*Marc Eisenson and Nancy Castleman have spent the last 20 years teaching people how to save money, get out of debt, and live better on less. Visit their Web site, http://www.GoodAdvicePress.com, for many samples of their work.
Check out the Good Advice Press Archive for other articles at the Satya Center website.