April 21, 2008 —
With the average American producing in excess of 50 tons of trash per year, you can't help but wonder how much of the stuff we get rid of could have found a happy home outside of the landfill. Many things that end up on the curb each week aren't thrown out because they're broken or even obsolete — they're just not useful to their owner anymore and they take up too much space. Five years ago, a man by the name of Deron Beal set out to make us think twice about the value of the stuff we no longer use, through a network of community message boards called Freecycle.
Beal's Freecycle network now exists in every state in the U.S. and over 75 countries, keeping more than 400 tons of trash out of landfills each day. Items available for pickup can include anything from computers, furniture and bicycles, to phone adapters and partially eaten boxes of chocolate. Some users have even been known to give away used socks and underwear.
It the concept of wearing someone else's socks gives you the creeps, it may be better to give than to receive. But if you think nobody's interested in those old tupperware containers or Nintendo controllers, you're probably wrong — most of the items posted on Freecycle find a home.