By: Mariesette Santiago
For Melissa Krone, 24, buying a new home meant giving away unwanted furniture for free and getting gardening tips in exchange.
"There was a lot of stuff left behind in the garage that I had no use for," said Krone. When she attempted to send them to a recycling depot, they were charging money to dispose of the items. Since the money was needed for her new home, so she looked on the Internet for a solution because she didnít want to toss large items in the trash.
Thatís when Krone came across Freecycle.org. She gave away a fridge to a young couple and got rid of building supplies that the previous homeowner had horded, all free of charge.
Freecycle is a volunteer-run grassroots movement facilitated over the Internet. Members give away and receive items for free in their own communities. The goal is to reduce waste and save items from needlessly going to landfills.
The website blossomed from a small group of people two years ago, to a huge extension of small communities across North America.
Freecycle Fact 1
> Freecycle Network launched in May 2003, by Deron Beal
> To promote waste reduction in Tucson, Arizona's
> Helped save desert landscape from turning into landfills
Think Globally, Freecycle Locally
Agnes Cruickshank, 44, has always been actively involved in caring for the planet. So when she read about Freecycle online, she immediately signed up to manage the group in London over a year ago.
As the group owner, Cruickshank volunteers her time to make sure that people who post items up follow the basic Freecycle rules:
Everything must be offered for free
Items should be safe, legal, and appropriate for all ages
Today, there are over 2,000 members in the city of London. "The group develops a gifting community where people like to help each other out," says Cruickshank.
"Itís a good way for students to get things that they need. And also when theyíre moving out, they donít have to leave it on the side of the street," added Cruickshank.
Waste Management Inc. Sponsors Freecycle
Freecycle Fact 2
> Mission Statement:
"To build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources & eases the burden on our landfills while enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community."
According to James Dobbie, director of media and community outreach for Freecycle, landfills are continuously running out of space. "Freecycle benefits our environment by minimizing the amount of useful items being put in landfills."
Earlier this year, Waste Management, North Americaís largest provider of waste and environmental services, agreed to sponsor $130,000 US to help Freecycle manage its rapidly growing membership.
"Little work was being done in the area of reuse," said Wes Muir, director of WM corporate communications. "We thought (Freecycle) was a very grassroots, innovative way in which we can identify our clients in helping them reduce the amount of waste they need to dispose of," said Muir.
Freecycle Fact 3
> 3,205 communities have Freecycle groups across the US, UK, Canada and Germany
> 269 groups in Canada
A Place for Like-minded People
"Not only is (Freecycle) a place to exchange goods and keep them out of the landfill, but it is a place to get to know other people who share your interests," said Krone.
When Krone spotted an ad from a woman in east London for garden grow lights, they began an e-mail exchange to talk about their gardens and offer one another advice about plants and gardening setup.
"My garage is empty, my plants are happy in pots from freecycle gifters, and I feel as though Iím actually a part of a community," said Krone.
Freecycle Fact 4
> Over one million items get offered or requested worldwide
Since Krone joined Freecycle after buying her new home and giving away unwanted items, sheís picked up planters for her garden. The last thing she grabbed was a ballast that she will use for a light to put over her tropical garden during wintertime. "Itís true what they say, that one personís trash is another personís treasure," Krone said.