Because I am aware that over the next year or so I am going to have to move myself from the 14 rooms that I have been occupying in Lawn Road for the last 40 years into something at least a bit smaller – and because I have been helping my good friend Prudence (of the amazing daffodil tick in the garden) to downsize as well – I have been re-aquainting myself with Freecycle. Local websites on which you can post items that you wish to get rid of but do not wish to sell (the vast majority would not be saleable or if so would not raise enough money to justify the effort) – and where you can find items that you either cannot afford or do actually not wish to buy.
You connect directly with the ‘offerer’/person who wants them – and it is down to whoever wants the items to collect them. What a brilliant and brilliantly simple concept. And what a wonderful way of finding a better home than the tip for of all of that stuff that you didn’t think anyone could possible want. But oh yes they do! Even down to an extremely battered copy of Mrs Beeton with no covers and the first 200 page missing…… Yes, I really did find a home for that a few years ago.
At this moment I am waiting for someone to come to collect the unwanted packing materials from the FreeFrom Food Awards –
much of which, infuriatingly, you cannot recycle. (Surely those loathsome polystyrene pellets and chiller boxes would be ideal for recycling – but no…. But getting them re-used is even better.) But over the last few weeks I have found good homes for an amazingly weird collection of other bits and pieces. A back stretcher…
…a random collection of jugs…
Two ancient umbrellas/parasols with lovely handles but otherwise totally shot. And yes, I know that I could possibly have sold these as one had a silver handle – but – by the time I had actually got round to doing all of that, would I have got enough money to justify the effort? Instead they went to someone who really wanted to try and refurbish them for their own enjoyment.
And that is the joy of Freecycle – although you do have to be aware that there are commercially minded souls who comb the Freecycle offers for items that they can acquire for free and then sell on. However, these guys are fairly easy to spot as if you offer more than one thing they will often offer to ‘take the lot’. Beware…
The satisfying recipients are the ones who genuinely want the item for themselves – or whose means are such that they cannot afford to buy them new – or who believe that passing things on for multiple use is a far more sustainable way to live than the built in obsolescence with which so many of us were brought up.
A really lovely guy took up the offer of Prudence’s complete set of 1969 Encyclopedia Britannica’s that the local book dealer and the local Oxfam had refused. (‘Nobody’s interested in those these days – might as well just pulp ’em.’) He came to collect on a Saturday afternoon, having just been to south London to collect a ‘new’ FreeCycled car seat for his little boy who had just outgrown the one he had collected from Freecycle six months earlier – and was now about to put back on Freecycle so it could go to someone else with a smaller child. I told him who the Britannicas had come from and how pleased Prudence would be to know that they were going to a good home – and he, bless him, sent me the following email to pass on to her:
Dear Prudence,Thank you ever so much for giving away your wonderful collection of Britannica’s.My partner and I have just had our first child, he is 8 months of age, and as I am an avid reader of all things, I would like to instill this in him also.We are just in the process of trying to buy our first home, with an eye on a house to make into a family home, I always wanted to have my (ever growing) collection of books on shelves in the hallway above the door frames, so you are greeted with knowledge as soon as you enter the home!Additionally I have always wanted my own proper set of Britannicas, ever since as child, my Mother had a red children’s set in the only glass display cabinet we owned (along with any china or other considered valuables).Being from a lower income household, without a lot of possessions, I treasured these books, and so will do so with the collection you have generously given. I will read them to my son, in the hope he fosters the same thirst for knowledge I have. And I will tell him a very nice lady called Prudence gave us this fantastic collection.
My other particularly heart warming giveaway recently was also to do with Prudence who, as an upholsterer, had amassed an amazing collection of curtain and upholstery trimmings – this was only one of about ten boxes full!
Some of it the went to FFFA cooks Katherine and Kate, both of whom are extremely handy with a needle (indeed Kate actually is an upholsterer); some of it to a young man who was setting up in business as an upholsterer – and the remains to an art teacher who wanted to use some for her class displays –like this….
But mainly she wanted the trimmings for her farmhouse, Flynne’s Barn, in the Lake District. Flynne’s Barn is being set up in memory of her daughter who died of cancer aged only 16 – to provide a holiday destination for young people with cancer where they can not only have a wonderful holiday in fabulous countryside…
but can meet other young people with similar experience of cancer. For a much fuller explanation of the need and what they hope to do at Flynne’s Barn, see this page of their website. What better a home could all those trimmings have gone to….
So enthused am I now by the whole FreeCycle concept that very little in the house (or indeed anyone else’s house) is safe from me…..