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11/18/2006 Archived Entry: "Freecycle"

I FREECYCLED A FUTON THIS WEEK. It was a good futon with a frame configurable into a variety of useful positions. Too big for Cabin Sweet Cabin, though. I'd been thinking for a long time about selling it, but could never get up the oomph to post an ad and have a bunch of strangers calling and wandering in and out of my very private abode.

Not sure who turned me on to the Freecycle network (probably Debra -- let me know if I'm wrong on that). In any case, it was a good find. With Freecycle, you can offer or request all kinds of items by email, as long as no money changes hands.

I posted the futon to the listserv that covers my county, got four potential takers, screened them, and had a new home for the futon by the next afternoon.

My first choice disappointed me; she said she wanted the futon because its lounger position was perfect for sitting with her three dogs (you know that hit the soft spot in my heart). But she never showed up. My second choice turned out to be somebody I knew a long time ago. When she brought her husband to Cabin Sweet Cabin, we all discovered we had lots in common. I even got to hear his story of how he built their barn for $27 (yeah, total) and how he constructs ag buildings for people (since ag buildings don't require building permits) then quietly retrofits them as residences. After loading up the futon, they helped me haul in its replacement, an old loveseat-sized twin hide-a-bed (much friendlier in this tiny space).

Freecycle makes the grand claim of "changing the world one gift at a time." Dunno about that. But it does seem like a promising place to meet resourceful people in your own area, as well as being a natural electronic extension of creative scrounging. And I must say that although I missed out on the $75 or so I might otherwise have gotten for the futon, the psychic payoff was better. I felt good about freecycling. Not as good as Ian felt the other day when a buyer paid for his gun with gold. But as though I'd lightened a burden.

Even in this small, rural county it turns out that about 1 in 75 residents is a Freecycle subscriber -- and probably more like 1 in 25 households. I was amazed. If you haven't already, check it out. If you're in the U.S. there's bound to be a Freecycle network near you. A growing number of them outside the U.S., too.

Freecyle won't allow listing of firearms and a few other items that are "not suitable for people of all ages" and does (to the chagrin of us animal-rescue sorts) allow listings of "free to good home" pets. But why quibble? It's a good resource.

Posted by Claire @ 10:27 AM CST

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