Monday, 9 February 2009

My first FreeCycle

This evening I completed my first FreeCycle. Unfortunately, this did nothing to improve my fitness levels, but it did bring us three black bags closer to our target of emptying our Junk room by the end of February. 

FreeCycle is a an organisation that is all about “reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills”. It currently claims 6.5 million members in almost 5 thousand local groups worldwide. If my non-descript medium size home town has a FreeCycle group, then there’s a good chance yours does to.

Once you’ve signed up, you can list items that you want to get rid of – things that you might otherwise dump at the household waste site. Fellow Freecyclers express an interest, you choose who you want to donate to, then make mutually agreeable arrangements to transfer ownership.

I had an assortment of Lever Arch files (formerly housing my University Lecture notes – sniff, sniff!), and two aged Colour Inkjet printers to dispose of. Previously, I probably would have taken these to landfill – albeit rather guiltily. But within a couple of hours of listing these on my local FreeCycle group more than five people had expressed an interest in taking one or both items off my hands. Following a brief email exchange this morning, a gentleman called in a few moments ago and took the lot: said he was setting up a new office!

I first heard about Freecycle more than a year ago. What put me off back then is the technology (or lack thereof) powering the scheme. Things still haven’t moved on, so, in the interests of decluttering my life, I had to put my technological prejudices on one side, wind the clock back several years and immerse myself in the world of Mailing lists. You send mails to an alias with “OFFERED:” in the subject line, together with a description of the white elephant which needs rehousing; once the item has been collected you mail again, this time flagging your mail with “TAKEN”. There’s even a convention using “WANTED:” and “RECIEVED:” for optimists, though etiquette forbids subject lines requesting brand new Mercedes Benz and such like.

But as I proved today, it works. All in all, a simple, foolproof, scheme for making the world a better place one black bag at a time.


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