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Eight days of happiness: five

My town has a lot of antique shops. One of them has a sign in the window that says "Going green? Buy antiques!"

Why does that make me happy?

I used to read several "green" blogs. Eventually I stopped because I got really sick of the blogs advertising all these green products you could buy, mostly for very high prices, and rarely ever reminding people "But actually, buying new products, even green ones, isn't as good for the environment as not buying new products."

So I think the sign is a good reminder: "Hey, if you buy this thing that someone already made, it's better than using up even more resources to buy something brand new."

And it's a clever form of marketing. (Well, in theory. I haven't actually bought anything in that shop, and I don't even remember which one it is. I just smile when I drive past the sign.)

While I'm on the subject of reusing things, I'll put in a plug for http://www.freecycle.org/ — another way to get things that someone already made into the hands of people who will put them to use. It's an organization that supports a lot of local mailing lists where you can post that you are giving something away or that you want something. I've had both good and bad experiences with my local groups—mostly reasonably good.

Some of the folks on my friends list talk about barter, which also seems like a good thing. I've never done it myself except for informally with friends.

What are your experiences with freecycle / barter / other ways of redistributing things?

Comments

( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
submarine_bells
Dec. 15th, 2008 05:33 am (UTC)
Freecycle *rocks*! I've got many many wonderful things from my local freecycle list - a giant wall of bookshelves, an A3-sized Wacom tablet (the expensive kind) in perfect working order, a huge library of dressmaking patterns (all neatly stored and catalogued), a lovely wood-and-iron queen-sized bed base, and much more. And I've managed to get rid of all sorts of old rubbishpre-loved items such as a wooden sailboat in need of much restoration, assorted finds from garage sales that somehow didn't seem quite so fascinating once I got them home, old electronic equipment, surplus-to-requirements books and craftstuff - the list goes on. Oh, and when my guppies were breeding like mad, I palmed off a whole pile of baby fish to happy new recipients (screened for fish-keeping skills).

It can be a bit irritating when one offers something and folk leap up immediately with an "Ooo, can I have that?" then are tardy in actually working out arrangements to collect 'em (or even don't show at all, which happens from time to time). But those folk are by far the minority of freecyclers that I've dealt with. Most of 'em have been pleasant, courteous and delighted to take my old unwanteds off my hands (or to have their old rubbish removed, alternately).

I adore freecycle!
firecat
Dec. 15th, 2008 07:04 pm (UTC)
I wish Freecycle had been around when I had madly breeding guppies back in the 70s. :)
lissamc
Dec. 15th, 2008 05:36 am (UTC)
I've used Freecycle now and again, both to give and to receive. It works pretty well. However, our local list has been taken over mostly by folks posting 'wanted' ads.

My current favorite way to find/unload items is Craigslist. They have a free section, which I have used both to give and to receive. I find it easier to browse than the Freecycle digest that I get in my mail.

Of course, if I have a batch of stuff to give away, and it is mostly clothes or small household items, I give it to a local thrift store. The one I usually use donates all the profits to a battered women's shelter. It makes me happy to think I can help, at least a little.
firecat
Dec. 15th, 2008 07:05 pm (UTC)
I give most of my good quality stuff to the Peninsula Humane Society thrift store.
the_siobhan
Dec. 15th, 2008 05:37 am (UTC)
I'm a big fan of freecycle.

I've had enough of an issue with unreliable or scattered people that I started keeping a list of people I didn't want to deal with. The up side is that the list made it very clear that they really are a very small minority - most people are great, both on the giving and receiving sides.

The really nice thing is that there are quite a few handy people on the Toronto list - they'll take things that would otherwise be trash and either fix them, strip them for parts, or make something else out of them.
starcat_jewel
Dec. 15th, 2008 06:58 am (UTC)
We use FreeCycle a lot, mostly for getting rid of stuff but occasionally for picking up as well. Russ writes all the FreeCycle posts, and he has such a sardonically-humorous style that he actually has a fan club -- people who don't necessarily want the items, but actively keep an eye out for his posts. We've even had repeat customers!

Craigslist is also a decent option; sometimes if no one bites on FreeCycle we've been able to unload the item there.
firecat
Dec. 15th, 2008 07:02 pm (UTC)
That is cute!
fauxklore
Dec. 15th, 2008 10:56 am (UTC)
I love freecycle for the most part. My local group solves the problem of too many wanted posts and not enough offers by periodically reminding people that they shouldn't post a wanted more than once a week.

My annoyance is people who can't read. I always put in "must be able to pick up evenings or weekend" because my condo complex does not have anywhere that one could leave something out for someone to pick up. And I still get people saying, "I could come by at 10 a.m. Tuesday."

But that's definitely the minority. I also find it interestingly hard to predict what will and won't get lots of interest.
firecat
Dec. 15th, 2008 07:02 pm (UTC)
My local freecycle groups have stern moderators who limit wanted posts.

We have those people who can't read on our local freecycle too. I write "Please put a pickup time in your reply" and only respond to people who do.
pir_anha
Dec. 15th, 2008 11:00 am (UTC)
green
most of the green products i buy are for cleaning, so they get used up.

my experiences with the local freecycle and craigslist have been great, both giving away and receiving (and buying some things). i've also used kijiji once.

bartering -- *meh*. i suck at that. i don't really know how to find a fair medium, i always feel like i walk away having given too little in return.

i give clothing to local charity stores, and books to a local store in support of literacy programs.

it's too bad most computer stuff is so hard to get rid of -- we have lots of older equipment, but nobody seems to want it (it's usually quite a bit older than what's cutting edge). we finally found a home for the indigo, but that's probably because it's more rare than the average PC.

i'm tempted to try and make art from the innards.
firecat
Dec. 15th, 2008 06:57 pm (UTC)
Re: green
Thanks for the tip, I've never heard of kijiji.

Around here some companies have figured out that old computers contain salable scrap and there have been multiple "recycle your old electronics" drives.

I'd love to see what you could make from the innards!
marea93
Dec. 15th, 2008 08:43 pm (UTC)
Re: green
I carried around a box or two of computer innards for years with the notion of making art out of them, but then I finally gave up on having enough space to do that in the foreseeable future. But I sure would like the time and space to play along those lines. I also love the styrofoam packaging units with all the little compartments in them. :-)
pir_anha
Dec. 15th, 2008 09:34 pm (UTC)
Re: green
*heh*. yes, that's likely how i'll end up. or maybe i'll make a few pieces and then store the rest for "later" -- like so many other things.

those styrofoam thingies are neat! what did i see recently.. damn, i didn't bookmark it. an artist was making miniature landscapes from them with real plants.
mjlayman
Dec. 16th, 2008 04:48 am (UTC)
Re: green
My city has an electronics recycler come in once a month (the same Saturday as hazmat) and we can drop them off then.
pir_anha
Dec. 18th, 2008 01:23 am (UTC)
Re: green
oh, that's nice. we have that once a year, which is really not often enough, and i don't plan things on an annual basis, so i usually just forget about it.
redbird
Dec. 15th, 2008 11:53 am (UTC)
I tried my local freecycle for a bit, and found that the bandwidth was too high: either a hundred emails a day, or everything in digest form and the things I wanted were snapped up by the time I read the digests. This is one of the cases where living in a big city is a problem.

The mention of green reminds me of ads I'm seeing on the subway these days, saying "We were green in 1960. We're greener now." You don't get a much better deal in terms of passenger miles/energy expended than a full subway train. In that sense, one of the greenest decisions I've made recently is that I'm getting almost all my books from the library: I'm doing it because I'm out of shelf space, but it means that I am buying almost no books. (The last books I bought were in August, at a used bookstore here in Montreal. And the "here in Montreal" is where I am being least green, of course, but I'm not prepared to give up my long-distance travel to see my partners, nor can I think of any likely way to get all of us living in the same city.)
firecat
Dec. 15th, 2008 06:54 pm (UTC)
We're getting most of our books out of the library for the same reason you are.
(Deleted comment)
firecat
Dec. 15th, 2008 06:52 pm (UTC)
I reuse the paper bags to hold recyclables, and to hold things we are giving to charity.

Grocery stores here give us money back when we bring our own bags, or give us raffle tickets or donate 5 cents to a charity.
innerdoggie
Dec. 15th, 2008 04:42 pm (UTC)
I haven't been that happy with my local freecycle group. People sometimes were no-shows, or they whined about aching backs and I had to do heavy hauling to give them free stuff.

What I found better is to sell old furniture and such to students for $5. The students are more likely to show up, they will carry it down the stairs themselves. (and sometimes I waive the $5!).

Yay students!

I also donate used clothes to the Salvation Army or church basement sales at the neighborhood churches.

As for acquiring stuff -- our furniture is mostly inherited from the previous owner of the condo, and before that, the previous renters of the apartment we were in. My flatware I got at the Ark, a Jewish charity resale shop.

But I buy my clothes new since I am very hard on them and haven't acquired the patience or knack for shopping at resale shops like my mother does. I admire people who do that, but I haven't cultivated the skill.
firecat
Dec. 15th, 2008 06:49 pm (UTC)
Yay students!

I usually can't find clothes at resale shops because they don't carry my size. (I'm not willing to spend hours at it.) I do try not to buy more clothes than I need, at least. (I often fail. But I'm better at it than my mother anyway.)
innerdoggie
Dec. 15th, 2008 09:00 pm (UTC)
I don't really think about whether I buy too many clothes since shopping is an unpleasant chore these days. But if I give something away in good shape, I don't feel especially bad, since the resale people can actually sell those things.

Yeah, the resale shops seem to have an awful lot of clothes in teeny-tiny sizes -- maybe that's because the bigger sizes will be snatched up fast by the customers.
ailbhe
Dec. 15th, 2008 05:19 pm (UTC)
Reduce, re-use, recycle is the mantra here.

We're not bad at it. The kids in particular get a lot of second-hand gifts from me, where most kids get new things. They don't know to take offense, you see.
firecat
Dec. 15th, 2008 06:47 pm (UTC)
Yes, my nibling got the nice wooden blocks I played with as a kid, and he loves them.
mjlayman
Dec. 17th, 2008 02:35 am (UTC)
Years ago I did a cross-stitch that I have hung on my workroom door. It's a slogan from the 20s:

Use it up
Wear it out
Make it do
Do without
firecat
Dec. 17th, 2008 03:18 am (UTC)
I like that.
leandra333
Dec. 15th, 2008 06:25 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty good at bartering. The last thing we bartered for was for free labor for our bathroom remodel next summer in exchange for our old travel trailer.

We recycle quite a bit of garbage - the recycle bin is usually full and the regular garbage has 1 sometimes 2 tall kitchen garbage bags in it each week.

We re-use as much paper/plastic that we can.

I donate all my used clothes to the family reaource center in my city about 2-3 times per year.

I haven't used freecycle yet because I've been lucky enough to find a good home for my unwanted stuff. Just last week, I was going to finally use freecycle to get rid of our TV but a guy at Lynn's work wants it - yay.
firecat
Dec. 15th, 2008 07:06 pm (UTC)
Our gardener ended up taking our giant picture tube TV, which made me happy.
marea93
Dec. 15th, 2008 08:52 pm (UTC)
Wow, you really got a response to this post. Interesting. I better weigh in too: We have used Freecycle very happily both giving and receiving. Our best 'get' so far are some cat-training mats. We could get a lot more great stuff if we had access to a pickup. But by the time you rent a truck to go get something, it's far from free.
mjlayman
Dec. 16th, 2008 04:54 am (UTC)
I tried Freecycle for a while, but the moderator was too easy on folks who didn't show up and I started putting things up in the Free section on Craigslist without any problems.
chickenwitch
Dec. 17th, 2008 07:52 am (UTC)
While packing up our home to move last year I used free-cycle frequently to give items away, I was paid well by every happy, smiling, thankful face that showed up at my door. I only had a few duds who didn't pick up their items, but someone usually would snap up the items if I posted them again. I have picked up a few things for friends, and our book club, but nothing I have kept so far.

Craigslist is awesome, I recently acquired a new stainless steel fish poacher for $10.00. I sold all my moving boxes and bubble wrap from my recent move instead of putting it in a landfill. When we recently moved into a home that required flooring I saved $4,000.00 on installation by utilizing a company that advertised on Craigslist that they had a canceled job and were offering a deep discount to fill that time frame with work. I did interview 8 contractors for the job and was very satisfied with the flooring installation by the contractor I found on Craigslist. I have been a little nervous about going to someones home to pick items up, no problems so far, unless you count the problem I have getting away in less than a half an hour since the seller's are usually chatty.

I have not bartered in a long time, more than 10 years. I used to live on a farm in the Midwest and found people wanted to barter for fresh garden produce, eggs, fishing privileges, or to spend a day roaming the property. Some of my favorite items I received by bartering; 1 gallon jar of honey, assistance with killing, cleaning and freezing chickens (a job I hated and earned my chickenwitch nickname from), fresh milk (yum, eating the cream off the top), butchering services for the cow I received for allowing grazing on my land for a month. I hope to barter in my new community, I am hoping to trade fresh produce for heavy garden work, and tree trimming in the spring.

I also offer items I am planning on giving away to friends and neighbors, if all else fails I donate to the goodwill industries.

I am trying to compost kitchen scraps to keep from sending to much garbage to the landfill. I use canvas bags for shopping when they are not full of books from the library, I reuse grocery bags in many ways, and I throw small items I purchase into my purse instead of taking a bag at the store. When we go out for pizza I take a plastic container from home to put the left over pizza in, that way I save the $1.00 they charge for a takeout box, and don't throw a big cardboard box into the trash.

( 31 comments — Leave a comment )

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