Monday, October 17, 2005

Fly, Be Free!

A freelancer who occasionally writes articles for the newsletter I edit alerted me a few months ago to the magic of Freecycle, and, still riding the high from having just unloaded a pile of bedding that was lurking in our linen closets from my husband's bachelor days, I thought I'd share.

Freecycle is a network of listservs that have popped up in cities and towns across the US. How it works is this: You find your area's local Freecycle list at and sign up. You can only offer items that you want to give away for free--no selling or trading allowed--and you can also request something that you need (for free) from listmembers. Once you make an offer, you wait 12-24 hours, choose the most worthy (or least scary-sounding) respondant, and make arrangements for the person to come and take your unwanted items away. It's a quick, easy, and painless way to keep old items out of landfills and get them into the hands of people who can use them.

It's also sometimes astonishing to see the weird items that people are willing to snap up. I mean, so many times I'll read an offer thinking no one in her right mind would take the proffered item, only to see an update a day later saying, "TAKEN: my late Aunt Gertrude's false teeth! Thanks for all your replies! Wish I had teeth for everyone who responded!"

Old computers, old electronics, old clothes, old bedding, spare parts, and more have found new, happy owners through my local Freecycle list.

It's also sobering to receive responses to an offer for something you consider just this shy of garbage, only to discover that the person asking for your "garbage" has a true need and couldn't afford to buy the shiny new replacement that's already gracing your home. I gave some of the aforementioned bedding to a woman for her cousin, who had severe health problems that kept him from driving and earning a steady income. He used it to cover the bare mattress on one of his son's beds. I looked at the beautiful new "Shabby Chic" brand bedspreads on my daughters' beds with a whole new appreciation for what I'm lucky enough to have.

So far, I've unloaded a garage full of moving boxes and packing paper; an ugly-but-functional mosquito net; an ENORMOUSLY fuzzy bathrobe with Pooh bears all over it that my sweet husband, concerned that my own beloved terry bathrobe would still be in transit, bought for me when I arrived in Korea--which made me look like Veruca Salt post-blueberry-bubblegum incident when I put it on (but probably looks fun and even flattering on the tall, beautiful single mom who picked it up); and the bachelor bedding.

It feels good to give this stuff to people who can use it, and it feels even better to know that I didn't have to resort to throwing it away or allowing it to keep cluttering my closets. Try it--I highly recommend setting your unwanted stuff free.


Mariann said...

I keep hearing about Freecycle and I've never thought to give it a try. I usually end up donating my excess, but I'm thinking Freecycle might be the best way to find a new home for my son's unused train table. :)

Tracy Montoya said...

I just got rid of an ugly, cheap carpet remnant. Freecycle really is amazing when it comes to finding new homes for old stuff. Hope it works as well in your area, Mariann!
But I'd think you could sell a train table.

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Tracy Montoya writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue.

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