Our old sport net/soccer goal/baseball backstop thingy is on its way to a new home. It is old, worn, and sure not pretty; we received it second hand from a friend five years ago. But it still has some life in it, some usefulness to someone, so it will not fill our landfill – yet.
I forget who first told me about freecycle, but after a quick check online, I found a local chapter. Freecycle.org is based on the mission “…to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources & eases the burden on our landfills while enabling members to benefit from the strength of a larger community.”
Currently, “The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,721 groups with 6,591,000 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. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them’s good people). Membership is free.” I can say from experience, signing up is very simple.
Before I became freecycle-ated, I would struggle with how to get rid of our unneeded stuff. Sell it? Donate it? Tax write-off? Selling sounded good ($$$) — besides, how hard could it be? It seemed everywhere I looked, people were selling their little treasures on ebay, or craig’s list, and making tidy little sums from their unwanted items. Turns out that selling requires sequential action steps (identify item, photograph it, upload, write listing, follow-up calls, etc. etc.) For a procrastinator, this translated into piles of stuff sitting around for a looooong time.
Consignment shops were the next avenue. I would go through effort to clean, press, and hang items, drive them to the store, and then be told by some young thing with her thong showing that my clothing wasn’t “what they needed at this time”. I’d save items from season to season, trying different consignment shops — (I have a marketing background so really, how HARD could this BE?) It became a game, a challenge — surely if I take THIS item, they will accept it. It’s NEW WITH THE TAGS STILL ON. But no. Their full frontal rejection of my stuff left me feeling kinda… rejected.
Garage sales? Don’t get me started. I know people who make $500-800 at their garage sales, so really HOW HARD COULD IT BE??? We tried a few times. Usually it rains. By participating in a neighborhood yard sale extravaganza, we had our best sale ever, hauling in $35.10. Unfortunately I had become distracted by something shiny up the street and spent $40.00 at their sale; …well, you do the math.
It is better to give than to receive…
Turns out it is really true. We give to charities that will come pick up at our door. We take loads to Goodwill trucks and to our local shelters. I’m not looking for any pats on the back; I think most people give goods to charities, and we had too along the way. Boxes and bags and loads of stuff no one wanted.
But purposefully giving away the things that in my mind could/should/would be sold — this was my epiphany. This felt good in a whole different way, a personal way. Enter Freecycle, stage left. No matter what the item, someone will end up wanting it. Broken old VCR with no remote? No problem. I posted it on Freecycle; someone was there within 8 hours to pick it up, shake my hand with a heartfelt thank-you and say his brother-in-law is a whiz with old electronics and thank you very much, we can really use this for my wife to do yoga tapes in the basement where the kids won’t laugh at her. Certainly now, more than ever, there are plenty of people that can use what we no longer need or want. We used to joke about the “garbage fairies” that would drive around the affluent neighborhoods, night or day, and pick up items off the trash piles on garbage day. I used to feel superior, really downright snobby about these early recyclers — now I see that they were, in a way, recycling before it was cool.
One man’s trash is truly another man’s treasure + reduce, reuse, recycle. = warm fuzzies. I give in.