Bust Your Clutter With Freecycle!

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by Michele S. Byers, executive director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation

With the weather still warm and potential shoppers back from summer vacations, fall yard sales are upon us.  They’re a great way to recycle unwanted items instead of tossing them in the trash.  But if you don’t want to commit a whole day to a yard sale or just have a few things to get rid of… check out the Freecycle Network™!

The Freecycle Network™ is a not-for-profit online recycling movement.  Instead of throwing away things you are done with – computers, sports equipment, furniture, appliances and more –give them away to someone who has a use for them.

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Freecycle Founder Deron Beal explains it this way:  “The goal is to make it easier to give an item away than to throw the item away, thus keeping good stuff out of landfills and helping Mother Nature.”  The result is a ‘circle of giving’ in each of the local Freecycle community groups.

Each Freecycle group has a volunteer moderator and a unique email group.  Anyone in the local area can join the group and post items to give away.  You can join the group and look for items you need – office furniture, hardware, a pile of mulch… if you can dream it, someone, somewhere is probably offering it on Freecycle!

Freecycle started in 2003 with a group of about 40 friends in the Tucson, Arizona area.  Today Freecycle has over 6.5 million members worldwide and over 10,000 volunteers. More than 45,000 new members join every week, and over 20,000 items change hands every day!  According to Yahoo, “Freecycle” became the third most searched environmental term on the Internet in 2007, just behind “global warming” and “recycling.”

New Jersey is no stranger to Freecycle.  There are almost 50 groups located all over this state we’re  in – from rural communities to urban centers.  Heck, there’s even a group in the original Jersey back in the United Kingdom!

New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s Director of Development and Outreach, Pat Huizing, found Freecycle was just what she needed when she moved back to central Jersey.  “We were renting temporarily and had all of our stuff in storage, so we needed to find cheap furniture fast,” she explains.  “I also wanted to get rid of some things we had at a rental unit that I knew would still be useful to someone, but had outlived their usefulness for us.”

“I found a bed frame, coffee table, an office chair and rug, and got rid of a really old laptop; it was gone in 24 hours, after about 30 emails when I posted it!  I even put a washing machine at the end of the driveway and posted a “curb alert” – it was gone in two days!”

So check out Freecyle at http://www.freecycle.org and find a group near you.  You can clear out your clutter, save yourself (and someone else) a few dollars and help the planet.  Not a bad way to start the fall season!

And I hope you will consult New Jersey Conservation Foundation’s website at www.njconservation.org or contact me at info@njconservation.org, if you would like more information about conserving New Jersey’s precious land and natural resources.


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