January 7, 2009

Freecycle

Some of your junk may be someone else’s treasure. We’ve all heard that old adage, but there are folks in your area who prove it every day by focusing on the second word in the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle mantra. Register for free at freecycle.org .

The average American produces about 4.6 pounds of garbage per day or about 1600 pounds per person each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In Virginia, the latest figures available indicate that 16.7 million tons of municipal solid waste had to be hauled away. Many of those tons could have been diverted from Virginia’s 250+ landfills. If you read this carefully, you can also free up Last Word space and save newsprint!

Freecycle Rhymes with Recycle—for the obvious reason. The Freecycle Network is a free, web-based service that’s keeping tons of items out of landfills—300 MILLION tons worldwide last year alone. Waste Management, Inc. is a major sponsor of this grassroots movement that is changing the way we think about what we buy and what we can do with it when we no longer need it.

Since 2003, Freecycle’s regional groups are giving and getting useable items for free and keeping unnecessary waste out of landfills by posting an email when they want to give away an item or are looking for a specific item. Each local group has a volunteer moderator who reviews each posting to assure adherence to Freecycle’s policy of no spam, ads, barters, trading, or selling. Local website moderator, Ginny Dickerson, stresses that “Freecycle is NOT a way to get and re-sell items for flea markets,” and that “Gazette Last Word readers who are seeking items are the ideal users.”

To sign up, go to http://my.freecycle.org and find your area in Virginia. There’s already an active group of more than 1000 in the Williamsburg group and 560 in the Yorktown one, both growing every day. After reading the guidelines, members post OFFER, WANTED, or TAKEN messages online. Safety and privacy are very important. Users do not include street addresses or phone number to the full list, only to an individual.

So if you’re upgrading your computer or TV, replacing furniture or appliances, or cleaning out closets or bookshelves, give away your old things that are still in good shape to someone in your area who really wants it by posting an email. After that, it’s up to the giver to decide who receives the item and to set up a pickup time for passing it on.

Of course, Freecycle encourages members to also remember local charitable groups such as Disabled American Veterans or Salvation Army.