Freecycling Into 2009

The holidays are behind us, and we’re moving into the time of year when lots of people are facing the daunting twin tasks of finding places to put all the Christmas presents and getting ready to do some serious Spring cleaning.

If you’re like me, you may even have made a New Year’s resolution that seemed like a good idea at the time, but now seems a bit daunting: “Take care of the clutter problem.”

I suspect de-cluttering is harder for those of us who hate to add things to the waste stream. The thought of putting something into a landfill that someone else might get use out of is bothersome, but how do we find someone who needs or wants our old stuff?

A lot of items can be donated to thrift stores and charity shops, of course, where they help provide jobs and affordable wares as well as being a relatively green choice. But there’s always those items you just don’t know what to do with, the ones that Goodwill and the Salvation Army won’t take.

What do you do with those bath sets you get from your cousin’s girlfriend every year and never open? Or that plumeria lotion your great-aunt gave you because she doesn’t know that you hate floral scents? Or those half-burned but no longer wanted candles? That double bed mattress you don’t need now that you and your honey upgraded to a queen size?

Well, my friends…I have an answer for you: freecycle.

According to their official website,, “The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,663 groups with 6,316,000 members across the globe. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.”

My local freecycle group conducts its business on a yahoo forum, and I’ve been a member for a few years now. I’ve seen people giving away everything from claw-foot bathtubs to treadmills, to baby clothes and empty wine bottles on the site, and we too gave away lots of items when we moved, including a box of sand dollars collected in California and my old collection of Cosmopolitan magazines (don’t judge).

As with Craigslist, using freecycle requires you to work within your own comfort zone and use common sense. I usually don’t let people come to my house to pick stuff up. I’ll arrange to meet them at the public library, or a shopping center. When I’m going to pick something up, I’ll get a map online first, and then ask my dad or my husband to go along with me if I feel like the neighborhood is a bit sketchy. Some people on the site are rude or grabby or just a bit dippy, but overall I’ve had really positive experiences, and it’s awesome to keep usable stuff from going into the landfill. And as a bonus, you might just score some really awesome deals for yourself!

To find a freecycle network in your area, visit and click “browse groups.” Most ample-sized cities appear to have their own networks; smaller communities may be served by a county network, or you may have the option to join a network in a nearby city.

*Picture is a cute convertible high chair (I’m going to re-cover the seat), and a stuffed otter I picked up from my local freecycle recently.

An original 5 Minutes for Going Green post. On any other day you can find VelociBadgerGirl at Pardon the Egg Salad, where you will laugh, might possibly cry, and will definitely be amazed at her reading list.

And remember the Ecostore USA giveaway is going on until Sunday January 25th at 7pm EST, and all you have to do to enter is comment on the giveaway post with a valid email address; if you haven’t entered yet, what are you waiting for?

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