Caroline Smith tries to live a green lifestyle and enjoys the challenge of recycling secondhand items to give them a new lease on life. Here, as a PWF guest writer, Caroline explains ‘freecycling’.
A major tenet of the green movement has been recycling, but in the last several years that idea has been expanded by a grassroots effort called freecycling, which is designed to reduce waste even more. Freecycling involves local groups of people looking to get rid of unwanted items or others seeking those items. There are many reasons for joining a local freecycling group and ways to benefit from it.
Nothing beats free when there’s a particular item that is being sought. A woman on one freecycling web site wrote her kids’ bicycles were stolen but she was able to find replacements, for free, in time for Christmas.
Obviously, though, when it comes for free its outward appearance may not be ideal. Fortunately, there are ways around this.
REFINISHING OR REPAINTING
If a wooden table or dresser is received but doesn’t quite have the right look, it can be sanded and then refinished or repainted. If that seems like too much work, a simple tablecloth will work to cover up any unsightly blemishes. The tablecloths and the paint could even be found on your local freecycle forum.
While a free sofa or armchair is nice, there’s no guarantee it will match existing décor or not have stains on the upholstery. Ready made slipcovers are an inexpensive way to improve the look of older furniture. They slip over the items, are available in a variety of colors and fabric and are easier to clean than upholstery. With cheap dining chair slipcovers also available, you can cover mismatched wooden chairs too.
While it’s true a major benefit of freecycling is saving money, protecting the planet is the most important advantage of the movement.
KEEPING TRASH OUT OF LANDFILL
National freecycling organizers estimate the movements efforts keep about 300 tons of what was once considered waste out of landfills.
SAVING RAW MATERIALS Finding a free sofa, chair or other freecycled item means fewer raw materials may be needed to build new ones.
Even when glass, aluminum or other items are recycled, energy must be produced for this process. Freecycling, on the other hand, does not require such energy commitments.
Another big advantage of freecycling is being able to get rid of unwanted items from around the house. In the past, the only other alternatives were to hold a garage sale, take them to the local thrift store as a donation or truck them to the landfill and pay to unload them. With freecycling, interested parties will come to the house and take something away on their own if they want it.
Freecycling is an easy way to save money and still get new-to-you items or recycle items that no longer have a use in their current home. It also helps protect the planet at the same time. Groups are free to join and can be found on the Internet by visiting www.freecycle.org.
Some good clear green thinking – thanks Caroline.