Recycling is made easy with Freecycle

One person's junk is another's treasure, as Bronagh Miskelly found with Freecycle

We all have unwanted items around the practice or house that are still in working order or that might come in useful some day. In reality they are just clutter, but there is a way to see if they are useful to someone else.

The Freecycle Network enables you to recycle unwanted items and help out other members in your community, so keeping usable items out of landfill. The network is made up of local online groups run by volunteer moderators.

Find your local group
There are 412 Freecycle groups in the UK with over half a million members. Find your nearest group or groups at www.freecycle.org and register as a member.

In general the groups are run through Yahoo Groups so you also have to register with Yahoo (www.uk.yahoo.com) but this is quite simple. Then you will be able to browse local messages and list items.

How it works
Everything posted, whether it is big or small, grandfather clock to a wristwatch, must be free, in working order and legal.

When you want to offer something — whether it is a consulting room chair, fax machine, staff room coffee mugs or an old door — simply send an email to your group with ‘Offered: ’ in the subject line.

Once you receive emails expressing interest — and you will, sometimes within seconds — decide who is to receive the item, set up a collection time, and finally post an ‘item taken’ message.

If you are looking to acquire something yourself, post a ‘wanted’ message.

And it does work
I have given away hi-fi equipment, phones, a fax machine, a computer to a community school and even a bag of (amazingly popular) wool oddments.

Don’t just think about electronics and big items. Recent messages on my local group included a Victorian fireplace and five goldfish resident in the pond of someone’s new house. Items sought ranged from a lawn mower (found within 24 hours) to a shopping trolley.

But anything exchanged must actually work. I do not expect there will be much interest in the ironing board with broken stand currently listed in my local group.

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