"If there’s a world here in a hundred years, it’s going to be saved by tens of millions of little things. The powers-that-be can break up any big thing they want. They can corrupt it or co-opt it from the inside, or they can attack it from the outside. But what are they going to do about 10 million little things? They break up two of them, and three more like them spring up!"
- Pete Seeger, in YES! Magazine

Thursday, February 12, 2009


The project: Donate items to others through Freecycle.

30 minutes posting, responding to e-mails and, in one case, waiting around for someone to pick up an item.

Why bother?
I had posted several items for sale on Craigslist and offered them up to local friends. Most of our friends' kids are older, so these things didn't appeal to them. (Or maybe these items just didn't appeal to them.) Usually I run our stuff down to the thrift store that supports our local shelters, but for whatever reason I decided to experiment with Freecycle.

How it works: You sign up for your local Freecycle list (free). You post your goodies. You either deliver or arrange pickup. Your garage/playroom/spare closet is cleaned out. You're no richer, they're no poorer, the landfill is no more full, they're stoked, you may be, too.

Worth it?
In a matter of hours it was all over. Kids' toys they'd outgrown (or not used in a year) and other household items had been taken, often with grateful smiles, by people who swung by to pick up. I never had to leave the property.

So, why did I feel not so great about this?

First of all, I have a hard time getting rid of the kids' things. They still want to keep EVERYTHING, but they have too much to fit in our house, too much for any kid really, so much they can't keep it cleaned up (in part due to size of house and limited storage space in relation to their goodies). Yet they don't play with EVERYTHING because, even for a homeschooling family with extra spare time on our hands, there's only so much time in a day. Too many toys, not enough time. I figure, if I haven't seen them play with it for half a year, it goes in the big box in the garage. The box is accessible to them so they can pull things back out if they want them. If those items go untouched for 6 months or a year, then the kids are finished with them.

Second, we usually either sell stuff on Craigslist (I've given up on EBay - too costly and cumbersome) or donate our stuff to the shelter store. I don't feel bad about giving up perfectly good stuff because I know it will go to another grateful home for very low cost and also benefit our local shelters of various descriptions.

So why do I feel unfulfilled by Freecycle? I think it has something to do with the whole setup. Everyone who grabbed our goodies had: a computer, internet capability, in many cases internet on their cell phones, and cars (sometimes newer, nicer cars than ours). Any of these people could have afforded the $10 to $20 I had asked on Craigslist, and certainly half that price they would have paid at the shelter-supporting thrift store.

I think I'll stick with Craig and the thrift store.


  1. i am so enjoying your journey with this blog. thought i'd de-lurk and let you know! it's really helped me think about everyday courtesy and kindness - thanks. i agree about freecycle - been there and done that and much prefer finding people who really need whatever i might have to give.

  2. Glad I stumbled acorss this...I was just about to try freecycle, but you are right...there are other people who may "need" what I have not to mention, really, is $25 too much to spend on a 27" TV?! Off to repost TV on CL. If anyone knows of someone who *needs* a TV (school, church, etc.), please let me know - they can have it. I just need to move it out...


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