I am a member of Freecycle. This is a global not for profit organisation which allows you to bid for and offer items- for nothing. Its purpose is a clear one- to exchange perfectly usable goods which would normally end up cluttering landfill sites. I admire the green ethos. Small groups are scattered up and down the land run by very strict moderators. They have to be. I’m sure enterprising but misguided rogues have tried to grab all the TVs on offer and make a nice profit on Ebay.
So how does it actually work in practice. I very rarely offer everything. So is it all take take take? Well sort of. In today’s society we are simply not used to getting anything for nothing anymore so in the early days of Freecycle I awaited the emails with an obsessive zeal. The sweetie shop was open! At the time I was setting up my own business so in no time had a wireless keyboard; computer monitor; camera; computer desk and a dodgy printer. So far so good. Meeting the owners at agreed locations for the exchange can be an odd experience. To unsuspecting members of the public the transactions must look like a rather odd drug deal between pensioners. Picture the scene, two cars park next to each other, a few words are exchanged and then the boots open where a small package is handed over. Rarely a handshake. Few words are spoken. And then they leave.
Last month I waited in a car park for the printer owners to arrive. They did, handed it over but the lady, just as the transaction was about to take place, looked me in the eye and asked me if I was a Christian. Her eyes burnt into my soul. Quick thinking was needed. What if I said no? Would she drive off with the printer? “Of course I am” and smiled in a Christian sort of way. I did not have a tambourine to hand as that really would have clinched it.
Over the months enthusiasm has waned slightly. I still get the emails and they are a pain cluttering up your inbox. But what joy thy bring. Last night the latest batch arrived offering an intriguing insight into the lives of those living in my valley.
a pink tutu
An adult wheelchair “am taking dad away at half term”. (My immediate thought was …does he know? Is he being dropped off at a care home…forever?)
A pressure barrel for a home brewing kit (immediate thought…..did the last one explode and is now four gardens away?)
horse manure (immediate thought, please God let it be for an allotment)
Star Wars toys (geek alert….”vehicles and figures OK”)
And I loved the final offer which hinted at a very messy house and possible mental issues: “would greatly appreciate wardrobes”
I am tempted by the red seater sofa with wooden detail. Apparently its “comfortable”. Well that’s a relief.
Join up, you’ll end up filling up your house with everyone else’s junk…but you’ll have a laugh in the process.
Now where did I leave that tutu?