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Clutter's worst enemy: Freecycle

You can find a home for anything, or anything for your home, at this wonderful site.

By Donna_Freedman Sep 18, 2009 6:43PM
I know I'm late to the dance here, but I finally understand why people love The Freecycle Network so much. You can give or get, de-cluttering your life or filling some basic needs at no cost.

No matter how odd the item, you can probably unload it. Earlier this week I gave away a half-pint of keys.

You read that correctly. Recently all the apartments in the building I manage were rekeyed. As tenants came to pick up new keys, I tossed their old ones into a half-pint berry container. At first I figured I'd drop them off at the scrap yard while recycling aluminum cans. Then I thought, "I bet someone wants these."

Within an hour of posting I had two requests. The winner: an artist who likes to play around with metal. The other person wanted them because his wife uses keys to make wind chimes.

Recently I used Freecycle to get rid of bunch of items my daughter and son-in-law couldn't take when they moved. The only thing that hasn't gotten a new home is their TV satellite. (Dish Network wanted the technology back, but not the framework that held it.)

          Bing: Tips for a clutter-free home

I've also found new homes for a few things of my own: a paraffin hand spa, some support stockings I had to wear for a week after leg surgery, an aerial photograph of an unnamed mountain in Nepal and a two-CD set of "The Nutcracker." The network has provided me free pears, plums and apples, and some canning jars in which to preserve them.

Both the givers and the takers get to feel virtuous about keeping more items out of the landfill. And both get to believe that they're getting the better end of the deal: You may not have had to pay to haul that couch to the dump, but that first-time apartment dweller doesn't have to pay for furniture.

If you've got too many items -- or, conversely, if you need things but can't afford to buy them right now -- then look for a Freecycle chapter in your area. You might also check the "free" section of Craigslist or sites such as SwapMamas or Swap @ Home.

I've written before that we throw things away too easily. Freecycle and other giveaway sites are a good way to avoid waste. They're also a good way to clean house, so to speak. Too many possessions do more than clutter our personal spaces -- they also take up way too much room in our heads. We spend an inordinate amount of thinking about how to display our stuff, clean our stuff, catalog our stuff and arrange our stuff to make room for all the new stuff we plan to buy.

Getting rid of extra stuff feels pretty good. For example, that paraffin spa was a well-intentioned gift that I rarely used. The woman who's getting it has arthritis in her hands. I bet she'll use it a lot more than I ever would.

Looking around my apartment I see a number of things that could easily go on Freecycle. It's unlikely that I'd miss most of them, and extremely likely that other people actually need them. Maybe I'll start by asking that metal artist if she'll take the satellite dish.

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