My grandfather was a hoarder. He had an entire barn full of rusty old tools. I think I might have inherited some of his hoarding instinct, because I hate throwing stuff away. ‘You never know when you might need it’. Worst of all is throwing away stuff that I think other people could use. But, as I run my business out of my house, space is limited and something has to give.
I recently took a perfectly good 21″ ‘fat-screen’ monitor to the rubbish tip because I didn’t have room for it and I couldn’t find a home for it. Previously I have had major problems finding homes for desks and other equipment that were surplus to requirements. But I have now found a way to avoid consigning serviceable stuff to landfill: www.freecycle.org .
Like most great ideas Freecycle is beautiful in its simplicity.
- You subscribe to your local Freecycle mailing list.
- If you have something you want to give away you post an “offered” email.
- If you see something offered that you are interested in you contact the offerer.
- You can also post “wanted” emails.
- Your first email to the list must be an “offered” email.
That is pretty much it.
High Wycombe, my local town, has a group with over 3000 members and the mailing list averages over 40 posts a day. Items offered this week include mattresses, TVs, desks, a 6′ tall plant, a complete set of the encyclopedia Britannica, surplus cat food, ‘Sex and the city’ videos, Beano and Dandy annuals, and various IT equipment including a cordless mouse, a laptop, a USB hub, a monitor, and a modem. So far I have given away a set of roller blades and 2 huge Java programming tomes I am never going to read.
Freecycle started in the US in 2003 but has quickly spread around the world. According to the freecycle.org website there are currently 4,076 communities with 3,673,413 members. You can find your local group here. If there isn’t one near you then maybe you should start one? Get full details from the freecycle.org website.
Good advice Andy… I’m all about the spring (well late summer) cleaning.
It’s funny though, I always think Freecycle is more complex then it needs to be. I wish it was just like craigslist, where you don’t have to sign up for anything, or find a group, you just list your stuff, someone takes it, and you call it a day.
One can imagine an ebay like web app for freecycle that listed items still offered and still wanted, how far away they are, in categories, searchable etc. Even ratings (how many items offered/taken). While this would be more ‘efficient’ the social dynamics might work out worse. The current system seems to work pretty well.
There is evidently a Freecycle group out here on Maui which I was unaware of until Googling and joining… as I type this out.
The hardcore action in free- and re-cycling for the last four or five years has been the bi-annual Maui Compuswap. This is a cattle call to haul one’s technojunk down to the Wailuku War Memorial parking lot. A triage crew sends the complete junk straight into a shipping container, while complete and functional computer systems are carried to a tent where volunteer techs match free PCs to a line of waiting families and individuals.
The organizers used to let the geeks sort through the junk pile in search of parts, but the event has grown to the point that they don’t have time to pander to the scroungers amongst us (sigh).