The clichéd college experience is filled with transitions: the rebellious teen who blooms into the mature sunflower, the soused drunk who learns of his alcohol limits and the undecided student who switches majors every two weeks. While all these shifts mark great advances in character, the important transition from one residency to the next shall not be neglected. From being flung into cold, white-walled dorms, to moving into commonplaced pre-furnished apartments, to ultimately making it to that grand house off 63rd, students, dragging their suitcases of clothes, dishware, books and paraphernalia behind them, eventually make it to the next phase in their college career.
Yet, they reach this new house and find it barren—with the exception of beer stains on the carpet, mildew in the fridge and lime in the shower. The question arises as to where students can obtain furniture and other necessities to embellish their new home. The lucky ones are given hand-me-downs from parents and older siblings, while the rest are left to scour the streets for the best deal they can find.
While the dumpsters in the alleyway do a lot for the rare treasure and Craigslist provides some good bargains, there is another option bereft to the common student: The Freecycle
Network. It’s like the free section on Craigslist, but better. The Freecycle Network is a nonprofit organization designed for just this: the exchange of free stuff. That’s right, free. So, what’s the catch?
The Freecycle Network was created back in 2003 by Arizona- native Deron Beal. What started as a grassroots movement to reduce waste in his local area of Tucson, Arizona has now expanded into the large gift-giving organization it is today. Like the Wal-Mart of corporations, Freecycle has grown exponentially in size, claiming 9,150,392 members, 5,068 groups and residency in more than 85 countries according to its website.
An online-based organization, Freecycle is run through emails sent out by participating patrons eager to give and receive goods. Messages appear on users’ home page titled, “Offered—” with a general location, which signifies a pending gift to all members. A patron who accepted a gift will reply later to the message with, “Taken—” notifying all other members of the no-longer- existent status of that gift. While the main design of Freecycle is this Offer/Taken get-up, members can also post “Wanted—” emails. Hopefully without hoggish attempts at self-fulfillment, this option allows members a direct access to goods. This notification highlights to other members of that potential good currently gathering dust in their attic.
As their motto states, “Saving the world one gift at a time,” Freecycle’s goal is not merely to make us dilapidated students jolly with free stuff, but to engage the world into a gift-giving economy, thus keeping palatable goods out of the landfills. That box of old cables in your garage, that rackety desk, even that bag of old hangers—someone might want that. What do they say: One man’s trash, is another man’s treasure.
Freecycle is divided among communities and run by local community members. Another plus, membership is free. How can you join? Easy: Log onto the website at Freecycle.org to become a member of your local group. Just submit your name, email, reason of interest and in a couple of days your pending request will be accepted and you are off to a bonanza of free stuff. The catch, of course, is to not become that Freecycle hoard—the one who only takes without giving back. The organization suggests to match every item received with an item given away.
Everyday, tons of items are posted onto the website, ready to be picked up and added to that desolate house of yours. thomas skov, staff photographer
Just today, the banquet of goods included: red vases, book cases, fender basses, ice skates, maps of the United States, dumb-bell weights, daisy plates … But back to the point: Freecycle is yet another option for students to participate in this surging green movement. Everyone wants to do something good for the environment, right? Joining The Freecycle Network not only saves our landfills, assists other community members with things they need, but you might just get something great out of it too.