Oct 312004
Authors: Lila Hickey

Many people enjoy searching through sales racks and cardboard

boxes at yard sales and flea markets. Now they can sift through a

variety of items worthy of any rummage sale without ever leaving

their house.

Fort Collins resident Barb Lattin started a Freecycle chapter in

March 2004, hoping to promote recycling and a sense of community.

Eight months later, her online forum has more than 800 members

offering each other everything from waterbeds to hamsters – all for


The main rule on Freecycle’s Web site, www.freecycle.org, reads:

“Everything posted must be free. Whether it’s a chair, a fax

machine, piano or an old door to be given away, it can be posted on

the network.”

Freecycle was created in 2003 as a way for residents of Tucson,

Ariz., to offer unwanted possessions to other community members

before taking them to the landfill. The online forum now has more

than 500,000 members in 1,665 cities, according to its Web


After signing up for the Yahoo! Groups Web site that hosts the

Fort Collins’ chapter, members offer their own unwanted

possessions, respond to others’ offers and sometimes post requests

for specific items.

Lattin created the chapter partially to help college students

find free goods and reduce the overflow of furniture, rugs, pillows

and other items left in Dumpsters and on curbs when college

students move or leave town for the summer.

“It could help students find a place to get rid of items they no

longer need at the end of the semester,” Lattin wrote in an e-mail

interview. “(The Dumpsters) are always filled and I think much of

that stuff is in fine to perfect condition. If students offered

these items on Freecycle, they could get rid of it in good

conscience and somebody who needs that item, possibly somebody with

low income, could use it.”

Janice Grabowski, a home-schooled college student in Loveland,

only found Freecycle a week ago, but she already loves the


“I like it because it’s a great place to list things you don’t

need and want to get rid of, and at the same time you are helping

someone in need,” Grabowski wrote in an e-mail interview. She also

received a quick offer when she requested a specific item on the


Other users agree that giving is the best part of Freecycle.

“My first offer was a daybed frame and it happened to go to a

foster-care mom who needed another bed so she could accept a

sibling group,” wrote Fort Collins resident Lisa Wynn in an e-mail

interview. “When she got to my house, I remembered I had a twin

mattress upstairs I wasn’t using so I gave her that and all the

sheets that went with it. It felt so wonderful to know I was really

helping someone.”

Freecycle’s basic idea, reusing unwanted possessions by offering

them to the community, is not a new one. But the online forum is a

different way to pass on unwanted or unneeded possessions.

“As a professional organizer I see the problem every day –

people have stuff they don’t need and need stuff they don’t have,”

wrote Fort Collins resident Sam Pielstick in an e-mail


Freecycling has grown in Fort Collins by word-of-mouth and media

publicity, Lattin wrote, noting that the Web site usually

experiences bursts of new memberships after new media exposure.

Lattin hopes that more college students will subscribe to the


“Freecycle would be a benefit to any community, but I think that

it would be especially useful in college towns and any other

communities where people are constantly moving in and out,” she

wrote. “These members are probably even less likely than permanent

community members to know of local places where they can get rid of

items they no longer need, but that are still in good


How To Get Involved:

->Visit www.freecycle.org

->US Central

->Join Fort Collins

->Start advertising your own junk

and browsing other peoples’!

 Posted by at 6:00 pm

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