Wednesday, June 22, 2011

One man's trash is another's treasure - gone viral.

Increasingly we are filling, cluttering, shoving, piling, shifting, drowning under stuff.  We give the impression we are a generous person when we frantically beg our acquaintances to please, take this item they have just complemented on and when they leave with said item safe inside a bag we never use anymore either, we let out a long sign of relief and a sense of achievement for having given that thing that's been lying about a good place to go as it was too good to throw away in the first place.

We spent guilt-filled hours debating whether the charity shop could really sell all those little flimsy plastic toys you collected with your friends during that trip to Spain and what shall we every do with all those cables and plugs, their original purpose long forgotten or lost. This stuff is still good, not waste! you scream in your head. It would be criminal to throw it away, but none of my friends want it and its too random for the charity shop. It does not belong in landfill, but perhaps someone out there could get good use of it, if only I could get to them...

Well you can :)
1. Bookmooch
The previously mentioned, much loved, Bookmooch is a savior for all us bookworms out there.  List the books you want to give away, make a wishlist of the books you want and when your number comes up it is sent to you for free and you return the favor by sending someone their choice of book from your inventory list. The added benefit, that sets it apart (and this is the really exciting bit) is international, worldwide! Oh the choice!!
To read the previous blog about Bookmooch, please CLICK HERE

This website works in the same way as Bookmooch, with a few different perks in that it can track how much money you save and can print out the postage label for you (which is pretty cool actually). The only downside is that it is only available in the USA.  They also have sister sites called SwapaCD and SwapaDVD, which I think you can guess what they entail.

So we've covered books, CDs and DVDs but what about all the rest of the random, harder to get ride of crap lying about? Well enter Givmo which is essentially a anything goes online swap-a-rama, which works very similar to the book swapping sites. You list what you don't want and when someone wants it you send it to them, get some karma points which you can use to get something you do want which is sent to you for free. Unfortunately this one too is limited to the USA, but let's hope they expand one day.
PS - Check out Low Impact Betty's blog post for most reasons to use Givmo if you're still not convinced.  

In the meantime there is always Freecycle, which works differently for all the aforementioned sites as there is no points/karma system involved.  People list things they would like to give away and first come first served. You arrange a pick-up and the item is your completely free. Equally if you're looking for something you can post it up and if you're lucky (and you usually are) someone will have one of those lying about which you are free to have. The great thing about Freecycle is that it is localized so every city and village has there own Freecycle network.

Of course there is another way to combat excess stuff, with these simple steps:
1. Refuse to consume - stop buying and only buy what you need.
2. Reduce the amount you already have - as we've been already talking about above.
3. Repair everything - don't just chuck it, most things only have a small and totally fixable thing that breaks be it clothes or electrics, make the effort to repair them rather than buy new.
4. Reuse everything - whether it be your cereal boxes, your old jumper which you shrunk in the wash, the boots that don't fit anymore - get creative and breath new life into the items, get imaginative and see if they could be put to use as something else - the cereal boxes could be used as filling boxes, the sweater might be appreciated by the neighbor's cat for bedding, the shoes would make an usual flower pot.
5. Recycle - as a last resort when you've tried your best, or the item really is on its last legs, you can feel safe in the knowledge that it has lived a long and useful life and you are sending it to its grave loved and fulfilled. 

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