The freecycle movement is one such community that believes in this principle of giving. In Ireland it takes the form of a Facebook group (Zero Waste Freecycle Ireland) with over 13,500 members, where people post things they would like to give away for free. Anyone can comment underneath an item in order to claim it. Similarly people are free to announce that they are “in search of” something. You could deck out an entire student house with necessary bits and pieces: plates, cutlery, beds, books and posters are given away every day. My own house’s student-grunge decor has benefited greatly from freecycling. At this point we are living in an emporium of the weird and wonderful as one of my housemates has become particularly attached to the thrill of finding random free oddities online.
Updating your furniture is a good way to change your space, and you don’t have to break to bank to get some unique pieces either. Online marketplaces like Ebay (ebay.co.uk) and Shpock (shpock.com) are a great place to look for cheap vintage items, and Gumtree has furniture going for rock-bottom prices too. If you’re really tight on cash, you could also try Freecycle (freecycle.org), a grassroots movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns.
Sell or donate – We often have lots of perfectly good items in our homes that we no longer need or want. Whether its’ clothing that we have outgrown, or furniture that doesn’t match the new colour scheme, these items have lots of good shelf life left in them and will be appreciated by a new owner. If you don’t want to sell the items, charity shops and organisations are always grateful for donations, other options include the local freecycle or swap shop pages on social media
Aside from planning her upcoming May wedding, giving followers money-saving tips, budgets and tax advice, Jennifer shares her stylish home filled with budget-friendly buys and colourful statement walls.
“Facebook Marketplace or freecycle groups are great for free or cheap finds, I bought my sofa on Facebook for €140! My kitchen table is also a meeting room table my office was getting rid of, I just painted it white,” says Jennifer.
Also in the line for the charity shop or for friends were the items we thought we’d never get through. We no longer need a Moses basket, or the co-sleeper, or the newborn bath inset, or the bottle steriliser, or the musical chair that kept her mildly entertained during a frantic shower, or a feverish bout of housework. No, Madam is on the go now; she’s approaching wobbler status and is outgrowing baby stuff quicker than we can add it to the Freecycle Network.
Could you be more mindful with your purchases – perhaps buying new things less often, enabling you to spend a little more on sustainably-produced goods that are made to last?
“Sustainability starts with not consuming. Ask yourself if you really need what you think you need,” says TV interior designer Naomi Cleaver, who’s teamed up with Moda (modaliving.com) on projects to help revolutionise city centre living across the UK. “Look on websites like Freecycle and eBay (plus charity shops) before you buy anything. There are lots of sharing websites and apps popping up enabling you to hire household equipment, such as occasionally-used tools, so you don’t have to buy them. Only buy things for your home that, to paraphrase William Morris, you love and will endure years of use, as well as passing trends.”
The global non-profit recycling organisation Freecycle has 28,000 members in Ireland, says John Hearne
Nothing beats the recessionary blues like free stuff. Art student Rob O’Shea needed a printer for college but didn’t have the funds to buy one. So he posted on Freecycle, asking if anyone had one lying around at home. Someone did.
“Okay, it’s six or seven years old,” says Rob, “but it’s working perfectly. It’s black and white, perfect for printing out essays and stuff.” He’s also picked up a set of shelves and he’s used the network to offload curtains and cushions that he no longer needed.
When I logged on to jumbletown.ieI found free armchairs and dining tables, to mention but a few things. Other good websites are freetradeireland.ieand freecycle.org. I like the latter one because you can choose the part of the country you live in. From office chairs to plant pots, they’re all here.