Freecycling offers students opportunity to give and take

Whoever coined the term, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” probably never intended for it to become an international movement. But that is what happened when Arizona native Deron Beal announced the development of The Freecycle Network, a program that lives up to the saying to its fullest.

Freecycle initially began as a local Tuscan e-mail group, which allowed people to give their items to people who might need them instead of just throwing them away. “Freecycling” is now practiced in over 50 countries, helping to keep at least 50 tons of trash out of landfills every day.

The program was designed to encourage individuals in communities to recycle by giving away the useable items they do not want anymore. sponsors millions of groups across the world so that people can give away their unwanted items more easily.

Junior Sarah Brown is one student who claims to be an active follower of the freecycling movement, though she does not actually belong to any local group. Both she and her parents believe that items should not be “sitting in a dumpster if they are still functional.”

“If somebody can use it and I don’t want it, then I try to give it away or donate it to charity,” said Brown.

While Brown does spring cleaning, instead of just discarding items she does not want anymore, she makes three piles. One consists of things she thinks she can sell, the other is of things she knows someone else could use, and then the other pile goes to charity. She does this so she does not waste anything.

Brown also accepts items that other people are throwing away so that she does not have to go out and more money than she has to.

“When I moved to college, my parents just gave me random furniture that they did not want anymore. None of it matched, so I went to Home Depot and got it stripped and repainted the same color. I also put matching hardware on it,” Brown said. “No one knew it wasn’t a matching set, and I hardly spent any money.”

Brown’s parents also believe that people are wasteful when they throw away things that other people can find use for. They usually walk three or four miles a day in their neighborhood and they see the items people leave in front of their houses to be taken to the dumpster. They sometimes take items they know they or someone else can use so they are not wasted. has several groups in the surrounding area, as well as a local group in Huntsville, Texas. It was founded two years ago and currently has about 320 members. To join just go to and sign up for a Yahoo! Groups account. The Web site allows you to post messages offering to give away items or requesting them. You can then communicate via e-mail to other members to arrange to pick up or drop off of items.

People can request or give away anything on the site. From homeschooling books, to dishwashers and old baby clothes, one member even gave away her father’s old mobile home to a family in need of a place to stay. The site has especially become popular in the light of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita because people want to help out families in need by giving away items they do not use.

The Freecycle Network is just one of the programs in existence with the goal of making the world more efficient in its waste output. And with the help of an active website, Freecycling is becoming a very popular form of recycling unwanted, but still usable items.

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