Wednesday, August 22

A way to save the planet… one gift at a time

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The Freecycle Network aims to connect people who have stuff they don’t want to people in search of the things being discarded.

Are you wondering what to do with the stuff you no longer love?

Before you dump these items and they end up as landfill, take a look at The Freecycle Network and its facebook groups, which aim to connect people who have stuff they don’t want to people in search of the things being discarded.

There are a number of Freecycle facebook groups, such as Freecycle Cape Town CBD and Surrounds, where membership is completely free and it is as easy as signing up. No money is exchanged and items are posted online with a photo and a short description. It really is a case of someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure.

But how did this concept all start?  In 2003, Deron Beal, who worked for RISE, a small non-profit organisation offering recycling services, sent an email to his friends and a number of nonprofits in Tucson, Arizona, announcing The Freecycle Network. This was Beal’s first step in connecting people worldwide to do good, spread the love and reduce landfill.

Read: The conscious consumer

RISE not only offered recycling services to businesses, but also made an effort to connect people or businesses with perfectly useable items.  

Today The Freecycle Network is a worldwide network of giving and getting, operating in over 110 countries, with many local community-based groups and close to 10 million members. 

Their motto is “changing the world one gift at a time”.  Not only do they have a major impact on reducing landfill and therefore promoting environmental sustainability, but the concept of Freecycle also strengthens communities.

So, how do you go about becoming a freecycler? 

The first step is to sign up to the facebook group closest to you. It may be useful to read the rules and etiquette of your local Freecycle group first. For example, advertising your business or selling stuff in the group is a complete no-no.  Some groups may even ask you to post an item before you can request anything. 

Failure to read and understand the rules could get you get blocked from the group. Once your request to join the group is approved, you are free to post your unwanted items. If you need stuff, you can also make a request and if you are lucky you’ll find a match. 
However, requests for items are not usually that successful, so it is easier to keep your eye on the group and act quickly once an item is posted.
It’s win-win situation. You literally can find anything on Freecycle from empty glass jars to chandeliers. 

That’s what I found on Freecycle  – an old, dusty chandelier with most of its crystals missing. I had it cleaned and polished and went on a Long Street antique shop hunt to find the perfect crystals. It took a few evenings after work to re-string the crystals, and now I have a much loved treasure in my house with a great story to boot.

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