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The Freecycle Network™? Is That A TV Thing?

By Susy Parker Goins

The kids have outgrown another set of sizes again, there’s more stuff we’ve accumulated through some bizarre gifting ritual — and what about those fast food toys? I have decided never to cross off “go through the kids’ stuff” from my to-do list. It never seems to stay done.

So what do I do? Hmmm, donate it. Yeah, but I’m superficial and lazy right now, with the holidays not far behind me. I’d have to pack and lug things to the site. I hand-me-down what I can and hand-me-over other stuff, but my 3-year-old flips out whenever she sees someone else in her clothes. Garage sale? In February? Even in the summer months, it’s too little return for my Herculean efforts and storage. Then I wind up donating it all anyway.

Freecycling to the rescue
But wait — there’s the Freecycle Network™! Is that a TV thing?

In 2003, the Freecycle Network™ was founded in downtown Tucson, Arizona, as a means to reduce landfill use and to preserve the surrounding desert. Its premise is simple and environmentally sound: if you don’t need it anymore, see if someone else does.

From the web site: “It is not a place to just go get free stuff for nothing. It is a place to give or receive what you have and don't need or what you need and don't have — a free cycle of giving which keeps stuff out of landfills.”

Signing up is free and easy (my two favorite conditions). You do need internet access, so if you don’t have a home computer, you can get to a public computer through your local library or an internet cafes. Then it’s a matter of going to, finding your area or community and signing up.

Building community
Building community is a main feature of Freecycle. Sure, gas prices are falling (at least in my area), but you need to decide just how far you’re willing to go to get an item you are looking for. I usually compare the distance to get an item with the size of the item.

How it works: After you sign up, you post OFFER ads with stuff you don’t want, like plastic plant pots, runny panty hose, yogurt containers or old magazines. The OFFER includes what you’re offering, the general area you’re in and a description of the item. Make sure you include all the details — even the not-so-nice ones, like a microwave that hasn’t been cleaned out yet. You may want to include a request to respond with a day and time the responder can pick up the item, so you can plan your day.

If there is something you are looking for, post a WANTED ad. Some lists have restrictions on how often WANTEDs can be posted. Check with your group to verify. From there, you ask for what you need. I posted that I was looking for a dresser for my boys. Someone had one sitting in a shed. I was able to get it for free!

The main thing to remember about Freecycle™ is that all items must be legal, family-friendly and free.

© Susy Parker Goins

Susy Parker Goins is a special contributor to Natural Family Online.

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