Thursday, February 5, 2009


It's a busy morning because it will be a short one. We're headed out to Delaware at around noon for what will probably be our last weekend trip there, unless it is to visit friends. Tomorrow we go to settlement on the purchase of our land. We'll also empty out the trailer and look at some properties that an agent there has been scouting for us. We're frankly not optimistic about finding anything we'd like either to live in or build on with the funds we will have. As slow as the real estate market there is at present, the waterfront boom of the last few years in tiny Sussex County, where we would want to locate, pretty much tapped the place out, and nice property, while lower in value, is still too expensive for us, given our lowered expectations on the sale of this house. We're much more excited about the prospects in North Carolina, where we will be going next weekend. More on that later.

Have you heard of The Freecycle Network? I've been busy with it over the last few days. Our garage has been filling up with things we no longer need but are still good and would no doubt be useful to the right person. We hesitated to take the things to Goodwill or Salvation Army because those organizations, worthy as they are, have no guaranteed takers and just send what they can't sell to landfills. (Or they bale up old clothes and send them to Africa, where they're either sold--or sent to landfills.) Freecycle is the answer.

Freecycle is a combination craigslist and neighborhood list-serv that performs only one function: it puts people who need some specific thing in touch with people who have that thing and no longer need it. The service is free, and so is all the merchandise. No selling is allowed. It's a peer-to-peer utility that transforms your junque into someone else's useful commodity. It's run by Yahoo groups.

When you click on the link above, you'll be taken to a page that asks you where you live. Type that in, and you're led to the appropriate Yahoo page. Sign up as you would with any other Yahoo group, and you're on your way. You actually post your merchandise on a Yahoo email page, and then direct responses to your own email server so you don't have to keep visiting the Yahoo site.

The entry is simple. On the subject line, write: "OFFERED: xxxx" (the "xxxx" being what the item is, like "tape deck" or "old magazines," or whatever) and in the body add a few details, and the general area of your neighborhood, such as the nearest intersection. Peoples' responses come to your home email, and you have as many direct back-and-forths with them as you need to seal the deal. They tell you when they can come to your house to pick it up, you put it out on the curb at the appropriate time, and it's done. At the end, you go back to the Yahoo page and create another post, with "TAKEN: xxxx" in the subject line, and that's it.

(Important details: you do all this email management under "edit membership" on your Yahoo groups home page. You have to take care to mark "individual email" when you're actively offering something. When you do that, your inbox will be flooded with all the offers you and all other active offerers are making, and the responses to them. Write back to the responders to your offer to make pickup arrangements, and when the transaction is complete, put up your "TAKEN" message in Yahoo and then shut off the email spigot by marking "web only" on your Yahoo home page.)

So far I've given away 30 cookbooks (all to one person!) and two rugs with their pads. It was fun because the people who took them really wanted them and were overjoyed to be getting them. The cookbooks went in an hour, literally; the rugs in half a day. Next will be old cups and saucers and kitchen doodads I no longer need.

It's fun to browse through the site to see what people are offering--exactly like trolling an antique store. You never know what treasure might appear. And it's free! I urge you to take a look.


Anonymous said...

My company just signed up for a years worth of ads on Local Ad Link which is owned by BOOMj. It's a cheaper way to get your company up in the top five searches if someone, like in my case, is looking for a Real Estate agent. We bought 50 zip codes in our local service area which also covers anyone coming to town and is using an isp in the hotel. Pretty cool way to capture a person looking. This website you found sounds similar but for a different reason. Kewl.

Linda - SE PA said...

Freecycle is great!

Good luck Ralph and Steve!

Jeff said...

Thanks for the reminder on this, Ralph. Had heard about it some years ago as a way to recycle some computer hardware I had. Been going thru my library stacks at home and have a ton of books I'd like to see reused. Not interested in money for them - I just want to see their life extended! :)

Ralph said...

Good luck with the books, Jeff. They should go fast. I found the whole experience so easy and lighning fast it was almost addictive--I'm scouring the house for space fillers fillers to give away!

Cuidado said...

I got rid of some water heaters on Freecycle. The takers were very happy to have them.