Author: Suse Coon

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Thursday, January 31st, 2013 at 12:27 pm
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Homes and Gardens

It’s Free, It’s Friendly, It’s Freegle!

There’s no need to throw away unwanted Christmas presents or household clutter. It’s easy to give away goods to local people who can make use of them. Freegle allows members to post pictures and descriptions of anything (legal) they want to give away and puts them in touch with people locally who may want it.

It’s like online dating for ‘stuff’. Got an unloved thingamyjig, find someone who will love that gizmo or whatchamacallit. Freegle has about 1.4million members across the UK in over 360 locations doing just that.

Cat Fletcher, one of the charity’s national representatives, says, “If you can’t use something, there’s bound to be someone in your area who can. We provide an easy to use platform to connect up people and things. Everything is free and all our groups are looked after by local volunteers.”

Now that charities are restricted by goods they will or can take, many more items that would have been donated are going to the skip. But Cat says, “People even want broken things. There are lots of community groups and other people who are really happy to get a broken toaster or worn out arm chair because they like repairing things or want to teach others those skills. There’s a real groundswell of people in all communities who want to fix things.”

Goods that are beyond their original purpose can also be turned into something new, this is called upcycling. For example, old washing machine drums can make attractive lamps and table bases. Old house windows can make great greenhouses for the garden. Extending the life of goods is really important. Reuse is more environmentally friendly than recycling which breaks material down into elements and uses masses of energy and transport to do so. 83% of sofas discarded at UK “tips” are reusable. Freegle provides a way to avoid this kind of shocking waste and facilitates the free reuse of about 500 tonnes of goods every month.

She said, “Western society has 12 per cent of the world’s population but consumes 60 per cent of its resources. Research by Yale says we’re going to run out of raw materials within 50 to 60 years if we carry on at the current level of consumption.”

Reusing and sharing what we already have across communities also enables the economically challenged to have goods that would otherwise be unobtainable but are essential to maintaining a decent standard of living. Charities, families, students, businesses, schools and all types of activity and community groups are all welcome to join their local Freegle group and start exchanging goods amongst themselves.

It’s a great time of year to start freegling, January is a time when people often have a clear out, are experiencing financial hardship or have been given new items as Christmas gifts so can get rid of the old ones. Sharing stuff on Freegle – instead of putting it in a rubbish sack or popping to the tip or relegating it to the attic – is beneficial to people, pocket and planet.

Don’t throw it away. Give it away!

Visit www.ilovefreegle.org and enter your postcode to find a Freegle group in your area.

If there isn’t a Freegle group in your area you may find a Freecycle group, which was the original model. Freecycle still has 540 groups spread across the country, with 2,490,981 members! Both groups are operating in Edinburgh and the Lothians.

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