Often when I’m headed off to buy a whatzit, it strikes me that someone nearby is probably dying to get rid of the exact thing I want. And when I drop off a sack full of goodies at a thrift store, I wonder if they’ll make it past the cluttered shelves and into the hands of someone who needs them.
That’s where the Internet comes in. For the first time in human history it’s incredibly easy to unload unwanted stuff or search for a used item—all for free!
Zwaggle is an online resource for parents who are looking to give and get items for their children. People receive Zwaggle points called “zoints” for giving gently used items to others and then can use then to “purchase” things for their family. Since it all happens online, you can get things from across the nation so it’s a bit like Ebay without the expense.
One of my favorite online resources is Freecycle—a local network where people can offer unwanted items and score other things that they need. According to their own definition, Freecycle is “a movement of people keeping stuff out of landfills while building community.”
So how does Freecycle work? People post emails either offering or requesting items from their local community. At this moment on the Eugene Freecycle network I found a full set of screwdrivers, a baby gate, and a bag of unopened kitty litter all offered free of charge. Also, if you live in Eugene, Oregon, and have loads of Hawaiian party décor on hand, someone on Freecycle needs it! If I want to respond to any post, I just email a reply and pick up the item or arrange for someone to else to come get my unwanted goods. Done!
Similar to Freecycle, Freepeats is a set of local, online forums where people can swap stuff for free—but its focus is on children’s items. The first twenty users in a few area get a lifetime membership for free. After that you have to pay a one-time fee of just $4.95—which is completely worth it if you end up scoring a decade of hand-me-downs. Freepeats hasn’t been around as along as Freecycle, so there aren’t as many online communities—but it’s spreading quickly. It currently has new communities opening San Francisco and Portland, Oregon.
My other favorite spot for freebies is Craigslist’s free section. It’s great to hit it on Sunday or Monday when many people are happy to give away garage sale leftovers. Also, if you’re looking to unload anything, just describe it on the free section and wait for your junk to disappear. My husband and I posted a broken countertop that we would have otherwise hauled away to the dump. Within two hours it happily swiped by a local couple who used it in their greenhouse.
So clean out the garage, save some cash, score some treasures and save the planet. With online resources at your fingertips, you can help community recycling grow from the grassroots.
Do you have a handy tip that might save money while helping the environment? We’d love to have you join us at Thrifty Green Thursday. For directions just go to this page.