Stephanie Burgis
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Freecycle: the liberation and the danger
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This week was our first experiment with Freecycle, and it worked perfectly. We've been going through some serious house re-organization (it's spring, symbolic of new life! new hope! and time to recycle the 10,000lbs of scrap paper scattered across all the surfaces in our cottage!), and one of the scariest things we came across in our cleaning was the huge monster of an evaporative cooler that we'd bought on a whim 2 years ago and used about 4 times. (If we'd been smart, we only would have used it once, because that was more than enough to convince us it was Not For Us. But it was so expensive! We had to make the purchase worthwhile! We...oh, never mind. It ended up stuck in a closet soon enough.)

When we came across the air cooler, we stared at it in chagrin and horror. The skeleton in our closet. It's huge. We'll never use it again, but we couldn't just throw it away, not when it's un-recyclable and still in perfect working order. So...I sent an email to my local Freecycle network, with hope but no real expectation (it's not exactly the weather for an air cooler yet), and we went to bed. The next morning, I woke up and found 10 responses in my inbox, ten different people asking for it. The person who won it picked it up that evening. After two years of guilt and regret, our air cooling monster is gone, and the house feels so much lighter for its absence. And I LOVE Freecycle! Next up: time to get rid of the exercise bike we haven't used for three years! And then...well, this could easily turn into an addiction.

Of course, the other side of Freecycle is the dangerous bit. Five times a day, I get digest emails from the Leeds Freecycle network. People offer all sorts of things for free: sofas, futons, computer parts...and today, a butterfly table. Butterfly table? I clicked straight to that offer, immediately tempted. I LOVE butteflies! I was so ready to leap on it...and then I found out it was just a plain wooden table with folding wings. Sigh. It had sounded so much more exciting in my imagination...

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