Freecycling: An Innovative Trend Between Donating and Recycling

Freecycling is an inventive cross somewhere between donating and recycling. Made up of individual groups, networked together throughout the globe, freecycling has become the hottest trend among parents, neighbors, and businesses alike.

The basic goals of freecycling are simple: get rid of the stuff cluttering up your house or office, but keep that stuff from going to waste and cluttering up an already overflowing landfill. All items are, as the name suggests, free. Some larger networks of freecyclers, will occasionally mail items to one another, in which case there may be shipping costs, but for the most part, freecyclers band together in local groups and schedule pick-ups from public areas to keep the process simply free.

If it sounds like the stuff hippy, tree-hugging granola-eaters are into, well, it is and it isn’t. Parents, especially those in new neighborhoods or away from their families, love freecycling for the convenience and low-cost. By posting a brief request on your freecycling message board, your community’s freecyclers will respond within a day offering up all sorts of goods. Strollers, clothing, toys, and more are easily freecycled around town, leaving parents with more cash in their pockets and freecyclers with more room in their homes.

Likewise, businesses can enjoy the benefits of freecycling as well. Larger businesses might freecycle furniture and office hardware to smaller businesses, cutting costly fees for waste removal and perhaps even being able to make tax deductions. In turn, smaller businesses have fewer start-up costs if they are already provided with workable furniture and hardware.

Freecycling defines itself from thrift shops and eBay by cutting out the middle man. There are no fees to get involved (as there are when you list an item for auction on eBay) and freecyclers are able to put names and faces to their items in ways that thrift stores might preclude. Not only are items recycled for their best uses, rather than being thrown away, but communities can come together in a social outlet for the common good.

The best way to get involved is to head to Freecycle.org and look up a local chapter of freecylers by joining a Yahoo group. Many communities have a daily list of items offered, wanted, or claimed and you can choose to have this list emailed to you. Other communities run via internet message boards, which fill up your email inbox less. Larger freecycling groups can be found through blogging communities, such as Livejournal or Blogspot, and integrated into your daily visits.

The social aspect of freecycling is only one bonus on the move toward the global impact. According to Freecycle.org, “Incinerating 10,000 tons of waste creates 1 job, land filling the same amount creates 6 jobs, recycling the same 10,000 tons creates 36 jobs.” It is hard to find fault with a process that is fun, free, good for the community, and good for the environment.

In my own experience with freecycling, I find it fascinating to see how quickly items are freecycled. Within one day’s time, a mother of three was able to find a trampoline from another mother whose kids had outgrown it. I also am continually impressed by how easy and guilt-free it is to “get rid” of items when I know they will be put to better use in another household. For those who have trouble throwing things away, always tucking “junk” away in a closet “just in case” because “you never know,” freecycling will set you free.

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