Free + recycle = Freecycle

Free + recycle = Freecycle

Need a television for the kids’ room?

Is it time for that recliner to go?

Got some cinder blocks that you can’t make yourself throw away? A computer monitor?

Join the Champaign-Urbana Freecycle group, whose motto should be “ask and you shall receive,” whether the receiving is someone to take your stuff away or that AC adapter you need for your cellphone.

Freecycle is a national organization with almost 5,000 local groups dedicated solely to people giving each other stuff. As the national organization says on its website, “it's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.”

In the past seven days on the Champaign-Urbana Freecycle list there has been, among the more than 250 messages, an almost even split between those looking for something and those looking to give something away.

From Sunday to Monday alone, someone was offering to give away a reclining loveseat, railroad timbers, a computer keyboard, a computer monitor, and a boat and trailer. Meanwhile, someone was looking for an Ethernet cable, floppy disks (found!), a small aquarium and an exercise ball.

Some months ago, it occurred to me that I was never going to use that black-and-white darkroom equipment that had made three or four moves with me. On Freecycle it went, and away it went. I had a computer monitor; it was gone in a day. Someone wanted the lumber I’d used to build a bunkbed for my sons, after they’d outgrown it.

It’s a moderated list; joining is easy. Your post may not show up immediately. The rules are straightforward. Nothing can cost money. No animals. Give a location – at least the town where the item is.

It's no joke about the volume of e-mail you'll get from the list. So far this year there have been some 4,700 posts. In 2009, there were about 9,000. The year before that, there were some 11,000. It's a lot of e-mail, and most of it won't interest you. That's ok, though. You have a delete button.

The Champaign-Urbana group, which serves an area much larger than that, is a Yahoo group. Go here and click on the "join this group" button on the right side of the page. As with any email list, it pays to watch for a day or two, to see how the list runs, how people phrase things and how they respond.

Oh, and don't forget about the big electronics recycling day on Aug. 7.

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