That Don't Make It Junk - Freecycling & You
19 Mar 2011 · by Brennan Storr · Be the first to comment!
The world has finite resources. I know this because for the last decade Al Gore & Michael Moore have been living in my television making frantic, bearded love while David Suzuki teaches them about “the nature of things”.
I know because of the lingering sense of guilt I feel every time I drive the car to work or throw away an empty jar of peanut butter rather than take the time to wash and toss it in the blue bin. I know that every time I throw away a Cola can a village in the Congo is burned to the ground while white hunters chase aluminum wildebeests through the embers, taking their hide for foil wrap and their organs for pie plates.
I know all this so I separate my plastic and my glass; I compost my kitchen waste & only watch television programs with recycled jokes. And when I have a household item that is of no particular use to me I have learned to “freecycle” rather than throw it away.
What is freecycling? It is the practice of taking things you no longer need and leaving them at the curb because they will take up too much room in your trash. There is also a website, www.freecycling.org, where you can advertise your surplus of hemp sweaters to penniless Australian snowboarders. After first contact you agree on a time for either pickup or delivery then hand your unneeded endtable/sofa/bongs over to Bogan & Bru and hope they don’t pick up any silverware on their way out.
Back home when we no longer had any use for a household item it was donated to Uncle Troy’s raccoon habitat. Of course it was more a sprawling kingdom of rusted-out appliances kept on his property ’for parts' than it was actual animal refuge. Still, we all humoured Troy, mostly because being able to send our half-working toasters and microwave ovens his way meant no one in our family had to buy extra garbage tags.
And this was after he cleaned it up.
The city bylaw inspector finally put an end to the practice when his son Jude was attacked by a raccoon in Troy’s yard. No charges were filed, mostly because Jude had been sent by the inspector himself to drop off an unused bread maker.
Freecycling is a far more elegant solution, I’ll grant you, but it too is not without problems. For example, every box of free cookware I see out on the street corner has a mouldering sofa somewhere in the vicinity to keep it company. This says to me that some people do not understand the distinction between “freecycling” and “littering”.
If you have purchased a new set of crockery and your old set is still useable, leaving it in a box marked “free” is “freecycling.” If your sofa is so decrepit that it has taken on the odour of dead men then chances are no one else wants it either and leaving it at the curb because “it’s better than throwing it away” is “littering”.
Sharing the things we no longer need without compensation is a wonderful thing. If more people did it the world would be a better place. However we must do it the right way.
First you must realize that it is sometimes okay to throw things away. Recycling is great and we should try to do so whenever possible but certain things are single use only and others are meant to be junked once bits have begun falling off. Next you must actually dispose of the item in a way that ensures no one else is forced to clean up after you.
Small items can be thrown by hand into the dumpster. Larger items need to be brought to the town dump. If you don’t own a truck, that’s fine, make friends with someone who does and have them help you.
If they own an enormous Ford Compensator that they drive only to and from hair appointments then lose their phone number shortly after the deed is done. Don’t worry about hurting their feelings – they don’t have any.
If you are unable to find someone with a truck then there are a number of services in every major city that employ thick-necked men named Otis who specialize in moving heavy things from one place to another. They will charge for the privilege, of course, but it’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind which comes from knowing you helped save your neighbourhood from looking like Uncle Troy’s yard.
If you’ve ever been bitten by a raccoon you’ll know how valuable that really is.
Chery DeWolfe, author of Frugal Victoria among other things, has a great Flickr account cataloging botched freecycling efforts: Click here to check it out (will open a new window)