. Why Freecycle could change the world | London Progressive Journal
A non-partisan journal of the left.

Why Freecycle could change the world

Thu 3rd Nov 2011

I’ve recently lost a few pounds, a few hundred pounds to be sure. I still fit into the same clothes but my house is feeling wonderfully airy and spacious. I gave about £500 worth of stuff away, for nothing. An astute business woman I am not.

Included in my clearing spree was a piano, a safety gate, a stroller, and numerous other bits and bobs. Total strangers came to my house and happily carted off my unwanted goods to be loved and used in their own lives. I now imagine my piano being merrily played every evening by a family resembling The Waltons instead of standing in the corner as a very expensive and space consuming shelf. I am now a confirmed ‘Freecycler’.

Freecycle is a network of gifting groups that started in Arizona and quickly spread to the UK, aiming to divert reusable goods from landfills and sporting the tagline ‘changing the world one gift at a time.’ This is a company slogan that actually fills me with a warm glow, surely a rarity. Sure I’ve given away and accepted second hand goods before, but this was always between friends. Outgrown school uniforms are gold dust and Lego bricks have a higher street value than cocaine, when offered to cash strapped parents. But this organised gifting is online based and the recipients are people I’ve never met in my life.

The benefits are numerous, from the landfills going slightly unfilled to the raw materials saved in the non-production of unnecessary products. Best of all, it leaves you knowing you’ve done a good deed and made someone’s life a little bit easier. Baby products are put on offer on the internet forums as are musical instruments and beds. Most receivers are grateful and polite and the rude Freecycler is almost unheard of. The most beautiful about the whole process is the honest and open descriptions, sans sales patter or marketing ploys. The frank descriptions are a refreshing change from the adverts bombarding us daily with half-truths and often blatant lies. When something is a bit worn, you’ll be told.

Freecycle is not a new phenomenon. However, so few of us take advantage of it on a daily basis. You would be surprised at how many mothers would love to get hold of your old ice cream tubs (they make amazing Lego boxes!). The adverts requesting old rope and material scraps for projects show there is a market for so much of our ‘rubbish’. Rather than just using this amazing resource for the big things, pianos, bikes etc., we should use of it for its intended purpose. The idea behind Freecycle is to change the world. We’re all struggling at the moment by trying to live in a world or rising prices, unfairness and to find our voice in the babble that is capitalistic materialism. Perhaps the tools we need are already available, and perhaps we can change the world, one gift at a time.

Deborah X is a single mother living in the North East of England. She works two jobs and is studying for a BSc via the Open University.
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