A New Way Of Recycling – Freecycle.org

File this one under “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Just finished up an article about a truly unique and innovative environmental conservation effort at Freecycle.org. The concept is actually an obvious one, yet somehow hasn’t been done before: 1) people who no longer want an item post a message on their local freecycle website 2) Anyone that wants the item responds 3) The owner of the item decides who gets it, and the new owner comes to collect it.

Instead of explaining in my own words how they got started (and possibly getting some details wrong in the process), here’s some information quoted directly from the History & Background Information page on their site:

“On May 1st, 2003, Deron Beal sent out the first e-mail announcing The Freecycle Network to about 30 or 40 friends and a handful of nonprofits in Tucson, Arizona. At the time Deron founded The Freecycle Network, he worked with a small nonprofit organization, RISE, which provides recycling services to downtown businesses and transitional employment to Tucsonans in need.

As Deron and his crews recycled, rather than watching perfectly good items being thrown away, they found themselves calling or driving around to see if various local nonprofits could use them. Thinking there had to be an easier way, Beal set up that first Freecycle e-mail group in a way that permitted everyone in Tucson to give and to get. Freecycle was off and running.

The Freecycle concept has since spread to over 50 countries, where there are thousands of local groups that have more than a million members. Truly a grassroots wildfire of people helping people by changing the world one gift at a time.

By giving freely with no strings attached, members of The Freecycle Network help instill a sense of generosity of spirit as they strengthen local community ties and spirit. People from all walks of life have joined together to turn trash into treasure.”

I’ll be on the lookout for Atari 2600 systems in my area, and I have A LOT of stuff around the house that I think is junk but someone else might dig on. Recycling alone is definitely not enough, and sites like this show what a little community involvement can do (from the original article, the organization estimates that it keeps 200 tons of garbage from going into landfills per day). Brilliant!


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