Get stuff, give stuff, save the planet.

The internet is the home of some great ideas (and admittedly, some rubbish ones, but we’ll not go there), but few come close to the total and utter brilliance of Freecycle, a network of users with one sole aim – to stop stuff going to landfill by passing it on to others who might need it.

The Freecycle mission statement is simple – “To build a worldwide gifting movement that reduces waste, saves precious resources & eases the burden on our landfills while enabling our members to benefit from the strength of a larger community.” Here at HowEthical! this is something we feel very strongly about. So strongly, in fact, that I decided to give Freecycle a try, and trust me, it is fantastic.

Over the course of the past six weeks, I have become a regular participant in the Newcastle group, both as a giver and a receiver, and the system works in ways I could never have imagined. Gone from my garage to good homes is a flatbed scanner, a cd burner, some board games, a load of old cuddly toys and a number of rolls of wallpaper, whilst heading in my direction has been a brand new glass television stand, a futon and a 20″ computer monitor and some wood for a highly geeky DIY project I am undertaking. The system really works.

The whole system is based around email lists. Users receive emails from other members, either individually or as a daily digest, which detail offers or requests. If you see something you want, or something you want rid of, you reply directly to the sender, and do the deal. With the groups being organised geographically, you are never too far away from the person you are dealing with, and the number of trades being done each day can be huge.

To check it out for yourself, and join your local group, head on over to www.freecycle.org. I’ll warn you though, it’s can get just a little bit addictive.

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