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Reuse: you, or someone else

February 14, 2007

Now that I’ve introduced the 4th “R”, Repair, to the traditional three, I’d like to make sure everyone knows about a service that will help you with your Reuse. The thing is, “reuse” doesn’t specify that YOU have to reuse something. If you can’t (or don’t want to), why not let someone else have a crack at it?

Sounds good, but how do you get rid of something that isn’t worth selling, without simply putting it at the curb and hoping someone scoops it up before the garbage man gets to it? Enter my new best friend and patron saint of clutterbusters everywhere, Freecycle!

Freecycling sounds exactly like what it is, letting someone else reuse what you have by giving it away free. (OK, so maybe it should have been called Freeuse, but Freecycle is a lot catchier – and easier to say.) The only rule with Freecycling is that items have to be free, otherwise you can offer up anything you have that you simply don’t want or need anymore.

My household has been using this service extensively over the past year. Truth be told, we’re still trying to pare our household down from when my wife (then fiancee) moved her one bedroom apartment’s worth of stuff in to my two bedroom condo that was already fully furnished. And now we have kids, so we’re drowning in stuff. We’ve tried the free classified ads for items under $50 in The Record with limited success. There’s Craigslist Kitchener, but I haven’t tried it too much. We’ve been meaning to drop stuff off at consignment stores as well, but it’s always a pain to get out there and find that they’re not accepting stuff. Thankfully organizations like the Canadian Diabetes Foundation and Community Living do fairly frequent pick-ups of used clothing and household items. We’ve given both tons of stuff – almost literally.

The one missing piece of the puzzle, however, was Freecycle. For items that were still perfectly good, but either too numerous, bulky, awkward, or inappropriate to donate, or not worthwhile to sell, Freecycling worked like a charm. I’ve Freecycled an electric fireplace that needed rewiring, drywall remnants, furniture, baby/kids items, kitchen items, a folding workbench, an entire ski set… the list goes on and on. My favourite story was when we were cleaning out our closet and decided to get rid of a pile of fabric my wife had been hoarding since before I knew her. I put it up on Freecycle (with her blessing, thank you), and it was out of the house in less than two hours, going to a group of quilters. Astounding.

The best part about Freecycle? Just about zero effort on my part. I have to send an e-mail, respond to a few, and that’s about it. People gladly come to your door to pick the items up, and if I’m not going to be home I simply leave it on the porch and they come get it when they can. Typically within two days the item is out of my home and being reused by someone else.

If you want to tap into this free flow of goods being reused, I use Freecycle Midwest Ontario, which serves Kitchener, Waterloo, and area. You can find a group near you in Ontario, Canada, or around the world. As I like to end my offers, Happy Freecycling!

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