"For sale: baby shoes, never worn." Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway is famous for reportedly claiming that his best work was comprised of only those six words. Although there is some debate about the truthiness of that tale, it is interesting to ponder how much loss and tragedy can be compressed into a brief phrase.
The good news is one person's pain can be easily transformed into another's joy and we can all enjoy the myriad benefits of free stuff while reducing landfilling and resource consumption rates. With the global rise of the freecycling movement, thousands of people are easily linking up with each other on internet forums, giving and receiving stuff that would likely otherwise be tossed out. Log on to the many locally focused subgroups at Freecycle.org, and start posting or browing items. Freecycle.org is a grassroots, volunteer-driven community, and you never know what great stuff you can find -- all for FREE!
It really is true that one person's trash can be another's treasure. On the New York City Freecycle board -- hosted by Yahoo Groups -- there have been flame wars over Dunkin Donuts mugs (are they worthy enough for Freecycling, or should they be simply used for target practice, as one helpful hater suggested). There has been much debate about open foods or personal care products and used underwear (see below).
In general, anything goes on Freecycle boards that is free, legal and "appropriate for all ages." Of course that last term is subjective, as we will soon see The New York mods, which comb through submissions and try to keep Freecyclers happy, have said everything offered must be tangible (no advice or personals, for example), and that tickets, coupons and the like are not acceptable. There are restrictions on pets (no "wanteds," only "offers"), so read the rules before beginning. It is entirely up to the individual parties to arrange pickup details, which ensures a level of privacy.
The movement officially began back in 2003 thanks to Deron Beal of Tucson. The Arizona-based nonprofit estimates freecylers divert around 300 tons of free stuff from landfills every day, through more than 4,000 local freecycle groups and 5 million members. (Don't forget there are other ways to share, too, as well as other sharing networks.)
What can you find through Freecycling? Practically anything! On the New York board there are couches, roof racks, lava lamps, lots of old media (magazines -- especially cancelled ones like Domino and Plenty -- books, vinyl, CDs, cassettes, etc), packing supplies (boxes and bubble wrap), tools, clothes, diatomaceous earth, half-used paint cans, bags-o-fabric and bags-o-socks, various props for theater productions, Santa suits, sports equipment and much more. Perhaps bringing a smile to Hemingway's ghost, there are baby and parenting supplies galore, from Exersaucers to birth balls, bouncy sets, cribs, bumbo sets and even baby shoes. One guy was looking for an ugly Christmas sweater for a holiday party, while someone else was looking to unload some spiffy Greenpeace posters.
Although the mods caution users to avoid asking for "extravagant items," there are occasional requests for Powerbooks and a used Vespa.
To get in the spirit, I combed through the entire NYC board archive (at least what hasn't been deleted, if any), and have assembled this list of the most interesting, bizarre, funny requests and offers. Why New York? 1. I live here. 2. New York is awesome.
PLEASE NOTE: The links below to specific Freecycle listings may ask you to log into Yahoo Groups, and perhaps to join the NYC site, in order to view. Also, please tell me what you have found and given through freecycling in the comments at the end! We want to hear from you!
Nope, that's "bonx" not bong, thank you Michael Phelps. "Women running sneakers" is an amusing, lazy enough phrase construction as it is, and somehow bonx almost works for the Boogie-Down Bronx
Warning: The following video contains some profanity.
Apparently Deli-Cat Buckets come from BJ's and once held dry cat food. I think we should put cats in them. Now. According to this freecycle user:
"The "old" me would've held on to these things until the "end" of time. My mother has threatened to "end" my life if I don't get these things outta her apt so I have for offer 3 empty 14 gal. mega Deli-Cat buckets that held dry cat food from BJ's. Green plastic flip top. If for any reason you have need for these things please let me know thank you for saving my life."
Warning: The following video contains sheep. Sheep are awesome.
I had a really hard time imagining WTF sheep tic tac toe might be and then I Googled it. It's kind of cute actually in it's own bizarre, kitschy way. In the words of the freecycler offering it up it is "approx. 5"x5". It has black and white sheep." Right on. Someone took it already, so you'll have to get your own.
Whether or not you are personally comfortable with using personal care products already partially consumed by total strangers is probably related to how comfortable you are getting "seafood salad" from the buffet of your local Sizzler. If you think your immune and gross-out defenses are strong, you can save some money!
Take heart, Aqua Net hair spray #3 is "Extra Super Hold." Says the freecycler putting it out to pasture: "I used this to get 'big hair' for a Halloween costume, and I have no use for it anymore [big hair is sooo out, duh]. I can't even recycle the aerosol can because it's not empty, so I'm hoping someone can use it and then recycle the can." Now that's going green!
Warning: The following video contains some profanity.
I used to live in rust belt Bridgeport, CT, where my local supermarket was surrounded by metal barriers. They were designed to prevent one from getting the store's shopping carts outside of the perimeter. Despite this fact shopping carts were a major mode of transportation on my street.
Hey, there's nothing wrong with being resourceful! As the great Bubbles from Canada's Trailer Park Boys puts it, "Normal people don't see the beauty in shopping carts." Yet they can serve many functions, possibly make one a living, and are great for racing.
I'm hoping this poster meant a Bulova clock, unless it's an obvious knock-off, and the "bull" is to be taken literally. Heckuva job there!
As Freecycle NYC mod Christina pointed out in a post, "I'm sure many people had thoughts about used underwear, whether privately or publicly . With regard to what's appropriate to post or not, we all have our limits on what we'll reuse. Every post about underwear reaps a few "ewww" comments to the mods, but i've seen 'em on sale in thrift stores and i know a lot of ladies on this list appreciate the bras that are given away (they're expensive)! In the same way one might see a taxidermied animal as offensive while another sees it as a kitschy stage prop, let's understand that we all have needs and limits. If you don't want it, skip over it, but if it can be reused and help someone out, is it for us to judge?"
So according to the mods, intimate apparel is fair game (including green organic lingerie!), while "drugs, adult movies, etc" are not. Writes Christine, "We are a large, diverse group in one of the world's largest and most diverse cities. We are united by our desire to see less waste in our city, and our ability to maintain this gifting system relies on our ability to be respectful towards one another."
Size S or M for the pink items. And obviously someone likes polka dots. I like this post because it shows both how specific and how vague people can be with their requests. Got something you think is hideous, lame or horribly outdated? There's a really good chance someone out there will love it, and give it new life.
I wonder if she really meant anything polka dotted? Pick up anywhere in Manhattan
I really hope by "full" you don't mean a crib full with a baby
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.