For the past few weeks, I’ve been transitioning our children’s playroom to a room for teens. Our family challenge was to try and do it without buying anything new and coming out economically even, spending no more than we were able to generate by selling things in it. The result is that I’ve been a very active user of some tools of the circular economy: namely Freecycle.org, Goodwill, Craigslist and for the first time, Facebook Marketplace.
If you’re like a lot of the people watching the new Netflix show, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” you have already looked around your home for things you want to get rid of. If you’ve already done the hard work of sorting through your belongings and culling what you do not need, great work!
Almost anything and everything
1) Don’t buy what you can get for free
There are many ways to get free things. Your friends and family can give things they don’t need anymore to you, like furniture and clothes. In an increasingly environmental-conscious world websites pop up where people offer things they don’t need anymore, which you can pick up for free, for example freecycle.org. Besides these two great options you can find lots of free stuff through dumpster diving, where you pick up stuff people don’t want anymore. Try it, and you will be surprised what kind of stuff people throw away.
NEW TO YOU
Craigslist is the best-known website for buying and selling, or simply giving away, used stuff. Others include Freecycle, LetGo, Gumtree, and OLX.
THE FREECYCLE NETWORK
The familiar slogan “reduce, reuse, recycle” reminds our consumption-driven society to be mindful of our waste, but recycling frequently receives the bulk of the attention. The Freecycle Network (TFN) offers an avenue for the reuse of working items whose current owners no longer need or want them. The way it works is fairly straightforward: after finding their local group and creating a free membership, users can post listings of items they want to give away (items must be “free, legal and appropriate for all ages”), respond to others’ offers of items, or even post a request for an item they’re looking for. TFN’s emphasis on reuse upholds its mission “to build a worldwide sharing movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources & eases the burden on our landfills while enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community.” Following its beginnings as a grassroots organization started by Deron Beal in 2003, TFN is registered as a nonprofit in Arizona and as a charity in the UK. As of this writing, TFN is made up of more than 5,300 local groups run by volunteer moderators in over 110 countries, for a total of more than 9.3 million members worldwide. [JDC
“I love the Nextdoor app and Freecycle,” Bursack said. “People use these sites for giving away stuff or swapping things like an old computer. They’re reasonably safe because you’re dealing with neighbors.”
“The amount of money my friends wasted on transport when they needed to get to a lecture was crazy in my eyes. Look on Freecycle to get a bike for free. That’s where I found mine – it just needed new brake pads.”
20. Find free recyclables. Join your local chapter at Freecycle.org. Then see if someone wants to give away stuff you are about to buy. The New York City chapter recently listed a free “hardly used” portable crib that cost $60 new.
FreeCycle is a non-profit organization, currently consisting of more than 9 million members, that aims to make the most of Earth’s limited resources. Part of that involves finding new homes for unwanted stuff, so it doesn’t end up in a landfill. As a result, you can find just about any free item, from televisions to beds for pets, on the free and transparent FreeCycle site.
Because the movement relies on community groups, you’ll want to visit the site and then search for offers in your specific area. Some regions have more activity than others, but unless you’re in a particularly sparsely-populated area, you should be able to find a decent selection.
Like Craigslist, FreeCycle will let you post as well as read others’ entries. So if you’re looking for a specific item, you can ask for it on the site—this type of entry will appear in the “wants” section. If you’re trying to get rid of something, you can post your own offers.
Excess envelopes get offered on Freecycle, where it’s not unusual to have half a dozen interested people; many of whom sell items on eBay and are delighted to get free packaging. Once they are past their best, I’m afraid it seems that there is little you can do with Jiffy bags, but at least you can feel good about extending the life of them through reuse.