Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Freecycling Rocks!

I'm addicted to freecycling.

OK, maybe "addicted" is a strong word, but my affinity towards this untapped weapon in the war on planned obsolescence just keeps growing by the day.

After the debacle with Freecycle Tiverton/Little Compton, Sara stumbled upon its much-better-off cousin, Freecycle Newport (RI, of course) on Yahoo!. Since then, we've been up and running -- getting stuff we need and giving stuff we don't need a new home. The site boasts over 2,000 members and depending on your preferences when you "join" the group, you can get regular emails with all the new listings. Folks post for things they want, as well as for what they want to give away.

It's been fantastic, having scored a few things for the baby as well as some old greenhouse panels I plan to use building new cold frames in the spring. On the flip side, we've given away everything from an old stairway railing to a weight bench that I'm sorry to say has seen more action from the dust in the basement than me and the dumbbells.

All this freecycling has me thinking on a couple different levels: On the home front, I wonder to what extent we could supply what we need around the house with freecycled goods from others. How's that for a budget-saving strategy?

Much more broadly, imagine what would happen if manufacturing (and all that other supply chain activity) as we know it were to suddenly stop, eliminating any "new" stuff from being produced. Is there enough good "stuff" already out there to provide the masses here in the U.S. with what they need? Maybe -- if folks could reach beyond deep-rooted consumption-laden behaviors and seize back the concept of "need" versus "want". Tack on some fleeting know-how for fixing what's broken (instead of reaching for the garbage barrel) and you might just have a recipe for success.

Of course, that's a bit of hyperbole, but you get the picture.

In any case, the fact still remains that freecycling works, especially when empowered by this lovely thing called the Internet. It's a virtual camaraderie in the fight against the behemoth engine of consumption. And coming off the holiday season, I'm sure we all have a thing or two (or three) that we could pass on in this way.


Natescape said...

We belong to Freecycle groups for Westport, Dartmouth, and Fall River, but Freecycles Dartmouth is by far the most active one. We've both given and gotten quite a bit of stuff from them. Most recently, I gave away a 5-gallon bucket of wall plaster that still had 4.5 gallons or so from our bathroom redo. Freecycles rocks, although it does have more than its' share of deadbeats who never show up for something or never respond to your request for something.

Since we don't do much manufacturing in the US, shifting to a less consumption-based economy probably wouldn't be a huge deal. That being said, it could be a somewhat painful economic shift.


Natescape, keep an eye out for an upcoming post on the book I'm currently reading -- "$20 Per Gallon". The inevitable and eventual rise in fuel costs will render overseas manufacturing and shipping cost-prohibitive, giving rise to the redevelopment of more locally-based economies -- whether they be manufacturing or otherwise. Now's the time to get ahead of the curve! ;-)

Happy New Year!