Why I Love Freecycle

For some reason, throwing things away totally depresses me these days. I haven’t always been this way. Just a year ago when we moved into our Chapel Hill house, we were amazed (and thrilled!) by what was picked up every week by our faithful Orange County trash guys—we threw out old vanities, sinks, loads of wood, fireplace screens. If it screamed 1979-decor, it went to the curb.

But I’m trying desperately to change my ways. One of my goals when we started this experiment in non-consumerism was to reduce our weekly waste. As a family, we’re pretty good recyclers (with the exception of last years trash-a-thon). We also compost (although to be truthful, we’re really just feeding the possums and various other critters that live in our woods). Yet we still create a lot of garbage. I blame prepackaged food for a big chunk of our trash. We also use disposable diapers–our second child, and his lazy mama, never took to cloth. But I’ve recently tapped into a resource that has created a new addiction and keeps some of our stuff out of the landfill…Freecycle.

This is a local Yahoo! group (they’re everywhere–just check out freecycle.org to find a group) that posts stuff people want to get rid of, or stuff people need, and everything is free. You’re not allowed to sell or barter any items. Give aways only. And I’m constantly amazed at what people offer and what people take! We unloaded a big-honkin’ 17″ computer monitor in less then 20 minutes. We also got rid of an old bathroom mirror and a cordless screwdriver we hadn’t used in years. Someone in nearby Hillsborough had an old shed and they were offering the wood. The catch was, you had to come and disassemble the shed to take the wood. It was gone in a day. Freecycle is a great spot for finding moving boxes, scrap lumber, kids toys, computer parts…and some extremely random stuff like deer repellers for your car, or a lovely burgundy lycra dance dress with fishtail skirt. You name it, it’s probably on there.

I can get pretty depressed when I read articles about our throw-away obsessed society (see article in SF Gate if you’re in the mood for a good downer). But Freecycle gives me hope. There are over 1000 people in our community who are committed to keeping stuff out of the landfill…or at least committed to getting used stuff for free–and what’s so wrong with that? I’ve got a little making up to do, but I think we’re headed in the right direction.

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