That dusty box in your closet or garage is filled with your most prized possessions, not to mention colonies of spiders and pincher bugs. You promise yourself that you will wear Aunt Mildred’s pink knitted Christmas sweater and you will master playing that banjo you bought five years ago at the flea market. The truth is everything will continue to sit in its box, just waiting to make you feel guilty about not using it. If only there was a way to free up space, eliminate guilt, help the environment, and make people happy all at the same time. Wait, there is—Freecycling.
The concept of freecycling involves giving your no longer wanted or needed items to someone that may want or need the items you would otherwise throw out. Additionally, you can save virgin resources by picking up freecycled items you would otherwise buy new. Pretty much everything you own can be freecycled, from books, jewelry, electronics, trinkets, furniture, to kitchenware. By freecycling, you’re diverting items from the landfill and also giving them a good home.
After holding two successful freecycling events at my office, I discovered that freecycling is similar to a treasure hunt, but with a story to go with it. Every time I found an item I needed or wanted, the previous owner would tell me about their memories associated with the item and I would share my intent for wanting it. People were thrilled to be keeping their item(s) “in the family”. An added benefit was hearing how much other people enjoyed the items I had donated. For example, I had purchased the game Risk, played it once and it had sat in my closet for nearly three years. A single mother at my office found the game and gave it to her son, claiming it was his favorite game. Weeks later she told me he has been playing Risk with his friends every day since. I was happy to see that someone was getting good use out of the game I no longer wanted.
The growing trend of freecycling extends beyond offices, and into universities, counties, schools, churches, and online groups. The non-profit group, The Freecycle Network, started in 2003 with the mission to build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves resources, eases the burden on landfills, and strengthens communities. Currently, there are close to 5,000 freecycling groups with 9 million members in more than 85 countries. As a result, freecycling keeps 500 tons of waste a day out of our landfills!
Consider this: Before throwing out any of your old items, join the Freecycle Network, participate in a freecycling event, or organize your own event. One man’s trash is indeed another man’s treasure.