Skip to main content

Reduce, REUSE, Recycle: Freecycle and Craigslist Free Items

One day of the class I took this summer (required to maintain my teaching license) was a day of field trips. Some people went rafting, some toured a farm, some visited a lumber company. I signed up to visit a water treatment plant, a hydroelectric dam, my local dump, and a home goods and construction recycling construction center. I learned a lot from each place, but the thing that probably left the biggest impression on me was visiting the dump and watching people pitch perfectly good, or at least recycle-able, items into the pit.
Spy Hill Landfill - 4 by D'Arcy Norman

We have made many trips to the dump, with broken items and true garbage. But in the few minutes I stood looking into the pit, I saw someone toss in a wheelbarrow, a massive pile of wood, soil, and empty boxes. The wheelbarrow did have a small hole in the bottom, but appeared to be functional other than that. I know it wheeled just fine because it fell off the top of the person's pickup truck when they made a tight turn, and someone in my class wheeled it back to them. We collectively gasped when the person then shoved it over the side of the dump into the pit. Wood and soil are both recyclable, and that person could have been tossing those wood pieces into a giant dumpster about 20 feet away, to be taken to be used as fuel instead of added to the landfill. Soil, or "fill dirt" could have been taken by many people who want to fill in their yard's low spot. I know this because after our garden project I offered free fill dirt on Freecycle and Craigslist, and more people replied than I could supply, and our driveway was quickly emptied of the dirt we didn't want. There is also a company in our town that takes all yard waste, including sod, dirt, concrete, and plant matter, and recycles it into products that it then sells back to consumers. Think about how much better these options are than driving your items to the dump, where they are then transported (by fossil-fuel burning vehicles) to a landfill either a couple of miles, or a couple of hundred miles, away. Landfills offgas methane, and pollute the earth and water, no matter how hard they try to contain the poisons. Basically, if you have anything that could be reused or recycled in any form at all, please don't take it to the dump and add it to the landfill! Someone just might want the item that you see as junk or garbage.

I mentioned Freecycle and Craigslist, which are my favorite spots for getting and offering cheap or free used items. Freecycle describes itself as a "network to promote waste reduction and help save landscape from being taken over by landfills." People post things they need, and things they have to offer. And Craigslist, well, you probably aren't reading a blog if you've never heard of Craigslist, as it is such a common . I like to check the free page every once in a while, just to see what's there.

I have given away cleaning products, a lamp, fill dirt, a water filter, and a few other things on Freecycle, and sold furniture, electronics, clothing, and baby items on Craigslist. It always feels good to know that something I was no longer using is getting a longer life, and/or being used by someone who really needed it! Sometimes I think we can get carried away with the importance of recycling (which I do believe is important), when re-using items is even better than recycling them in terms of saving energy and natural resources. Of course, donating you unwanted things to a charity is a good option too.

In college, I spent a semester abroad. I learned a lot about American culture by noticing what was different in other countries. One thing that I grew to appreciate about American culture was our willingness to give old things a second (or third or fourth) chance through re-sale shops, consignment shops, online selling and sharing, donations, and the good old free pile by the curb. Perhaps because I live in a university town that prides itself on being green, but there are free piles here all the time -- of extra garden produce, leftover moving supplies, furniture, albums, you name it, I've probably seen it free. In Spain, where I lived for five months, there were no free piles, and no Goodwill or consignment shops. When I asked a Spanish friend about what I should do with the clothes I didn't want to pack around for the rest of my European travels, he said I could throw them away or donate them to a church that would give them to the poor. Several of my friends and I donated our clothes before we left, but were surprised there were no other options. Perhaps it isn't this way in all of Spain, but it certainly made me appreciate my local culture's ability to REUSE goods until they are no longer useful or usable. Although many people clearly aren't doing it, as evidenced by my visit to the dump, the opportunity is there.

What's it like where you live? Have you given or gotten some great used items recently?


Popular posts from this blog

Summer 2020 - Life in a Pandemic

I'm in my final week of summer before work as a middle school teacher begins again. This time of year I'm always in a reflective mood.  I look back and feel so lucky to have had this time with my kids. We went camping, biking, boating, golfing, and hiking. We celebrated my sister's wedding, we did projects together, watched movies, and just hung out at home. It really was everything that summer is meant to be. There were many events and plans that we canceled due to Covid, but we did all the most important things. We missed friends, but I also reveled in the togetherness with my little family unit. Today, I spent time registering for fall childcare and activities. It's less than usual, but still I can see the pace of our lives picking up. As we move into a season of more busy-ness, more work, and likely more stress, this poem sums up the feelings I'm experiencing.... Vacation End by Leslie Pinckney Hill From the charm of radiant faces, From the days we took to dream

Win a Year of Childcare!

I recently discovered this website when I was trying to figure out average rates for childcare in my local area. I even forwarded the URL to the members of my parenting group. Then, yesterday I got an email from an employee of the website asking if I would mention their giveaway in my blog. Sure! I think this is a good site for information, and for connecting with care providers in your area. So, here it is: is hosting a giveaway for $12,455—that's how much the average family spends on child care each year. To enter, all you have to do is sign up for a free membership to the site. This is for people who don't even have kids, too. They list services for childcare, pet care, senior care, special needs, tutoring and lessons, and housekeeping ! Probably anyone could use at least one of those services, right? Good luck! Contest ends October 9 .

Dresser Painting Project Update

The weather here has been extra cold over the last week, so my dresser painting project is on hold for now. I had been painting in the garage with a heater, but the heater can't get the temperature high enough for the paint to work well (55 plus) with our freezing temperatures right now. Overall, I have really enjoyed using the paint sprayer, even though I have had a few frustrating times. Like, when I realized that not enough paint was spraying out because the air hole into the canister was clogged, after nearly an hour of working on it. So far, I have put on three thin coats of primer and two thin coats of paint. The original stain color (shown here <-- )underneath is still showing through a little, even with all of that paint, so I have a few more coats to go, I think. The color comes through the most on the parts where I sanded all the way through the top finish, but didn't sand down to bare wood. It seems as if the stain is able to seep up through the paint in these ar