~By Anu. I am an ebay junkie. Yes, I admit it... I have dragged my newborn son down airless subterannean internet cafes... stayed up until my eyes were pin-drops... even phoned friends to bid for me when the clock was ticking (can you say that anymore) on a coveted item. I once bought back all the toys my parents gave away when we moved cross-country when I was 9-years-old. I take the feedback seriously. Last year, I bought a fake Chinese made North Face jacket on ebay and then spent months trying to get my money back (don't trust ebay or paypal on this... you're largely on your own.)
But while ebay is good for profitably recycling things... there's another, local, even more satisfying way to get those odds and ends you need: Freecycle.
This year, I've given away my old cordless phone, bathroom sink, car steering lock, automatic cat feeder and 20 cement garden pavers - to people who were grateful to receive them. And in return, I've received gorgeous pond plants, a brand new water butt with stand (costs $150 new) and sailboat-shaped sandboxes. Free.
It's a win-win situation, and one that keeps clutter out of landfills.
Still, the stuff I Freecycled is pretty boring compared to what's on offer in my area: Anatomical models, Chinese vases, plastic sheeting, "skirt, size 8, black lightweight lacey pattern. Rather dressy."
Here was one message that told a tale:
"i have just found out i am expecting my third baby not planned even a little bit. i have a few bits a bobs but my son is only 8months old and a lot of what we have he will still need. please can any one help."
And this one: "does anybody have a dark purple paint to paint my daughters bedroom?
thanks" (This one made me snigger: "Weird offer I know, but have two pairs of rubber gloves which are too big so won't get used. Are size Large.
Or this wonderful suggestion:
"A pleasant good day/eve! I would like a suitcase, if anyone has one they no longer need, as long as it has some life left in it, I would greatly appreciate it, and when I get back, an idea could be to put a sticker of where I have been and repost on freecycle, so the case can travel on it's journeys!! :)
If you subscribe to Freecycle in your area, not only do you come to appreciate how much STUFF we collect, but how much you can reuse... how much you don't need... and certainly don't need to buy. There are appliances, children's clothes and toys on offer, furniture, books, DVDs, computers, cosmetics, even teabags (why not?)
There are serial Freecyclers, those who seem to be seeking or offering multiples things each day (sometimes I wonder if they aren't just lonely and this is a good way to meet new people, however briefly), and there are those wonderful coincidences, like when you go to collect something, and the woman who opens the door is someone you got chatting to on a bus a few weeks ago... or your local GP!