Saving the planet, one item at a timeFreecycle Network encourages people to give items away so they don’t end up in the landfill
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — It’s hard to imagine what 300 tons — 600,000 pounds — of stuff looks like, but that is the estimated amount not going into our nation’s landfills on a daily basis, thanks to The Freecycle Network.
The Internet Web site established five years ago in Tucson, Ariz., to help people with excess items give them away to people in need has since grown to more than 5.5 million people in more than 4,500 Freecycle groups around the country. One of those groups is based in Nobles County, and with nearly 140 members signed up in the last two years, local Freecycle site coordinator Kathy Murray is hoping more people will opt to go green and do their part to keep landfills from, well, filling up.
Murray, a native of Worthington who now lives in Pipestone, said the local site (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WorthingtonNoblesCoMNFreecycle/) is open to people who live within about a 60-mile radius of Worthington. She describes the site as a place for people to give away their unwanted or unused items to people who can really use them.
“It’s for everything that you don’t need around the house anymore,” she said. Items offered on the site range from bicycles and weed trimmers to microwaves, clothing, books and magazines. Larger items, such as refrigerators, washing machines and water heaters have also been listed.
“Everything must be free — not for profit,” said Murray of the items people can list.
Since the site is limited to people within a 60-mile radius of Worthington, getting something for free means it shouldn’t cost too much to pick it up. There is no shipping — all items must be exchanged in person.
“Anything you would normally throw in the landfill — anything that needs a new home — you could offer,” she said. “Free, legal and appropriate for all ages is our slogan.”
Just since the first of the year, Murray said more than 170 posts have been made to the site, including not just items to give away, but items that people want as well.
Julie VanderPol has been an avid Freecycle user nearly since the program began. She used it frequently while living in Michigan, and when the family moved to Edgerton last October, it didn’t take long for her to get signed up for the Nobles County Freecycle Network.
“It’s an easy way to get rid of the stuff I don’t need and for finding treasures that you do need, all for no cost,” VanderPol said.
Her greatest find on the Freecycle Network was a jogging stroller she got for free after her daughter was born. The stroller, she said, was practically new and was an item she really appreciated getting.
VanderPol also got two car seats through Freecycle, and when the family was preparing to move to southwest Minnesota, she used the site to get rid of a lot of items that they didn’t want to bring with them.
“It’s great for new homebuyers and people with young children,” she added.
Murray said the local site is offering a challenge right now for people to clean out their school supplies and clothing and offer them as parents are seeking to fill their back-to-school shopping lists.
“We wish we could get many more people involved,” Murray said.
“The more people that know about it, the more successful it is,” added VanderPol.
Those who have offered items or posted messages seeking a particular item have had good success on the site, and Murray said she sends out questionnaires to members every couple of months to find out if people are able to get rid of the items they have posted. Those who are unable to find a taker for their items are encouraged to donate them to a second-hand store.
Becoming a member of the Freecycle Network is fairly simple. They can visit the Nobles County site, fill out a short questionnaire and wait for the site moderator to approve the membership. There is no cost to become a member.