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When LAS first posted a news item about Freecycle in 2005 the network had expanded from Tucson, Arizona, where it was founded in 2003, to over 3000 community groups serving some 2 million Americans. Today the Freecycle program, which uses an easy email-based newsgroup that combines the social bulletin-board aspect of Craigslist with the quantity and condition of eBay and garage sales, serves more than 7 million members in some 4700 groups spread across 70 countries.
Splitting the difference between a curbside discard pile and a garage sale, the Freecycle network combines the best aspects of environmental stewardship and frugality in a manner that Grist bloggers and Grandpa Thrifty would admire. Aimed at "changing the world one gift at a time," the Freecycle Network is a godsend for those of us with too much stuff and too little time, not to mention being on a budget or saddled with a creative mind and unfinished projects. Simply joining a local network gives anyone access to a stream of unwanted and free-for-the-taking items that can range from automobiles to xylophones. Anytime a Freecycler has something unwanted but useable--the whole point of the list is to avoid junk--they simply post a note to the network and ask for someone to take it away. More often than not a minute of typing (entries basically read like a classified ad, short and concise with a headline and description) will have a Freecycler in need rolling up to the curb and taking away what would otherwise have required a trip to the dump.
For Freecycle the rapid expansion of user groups has been spurred by both the sheer attractiveness of free goods and the widespread ease of access. Last year, following an agreement with Nokia, the group launched a mobile application, mobile.freecycle.org, that they hoped would "expand the global gifting network beyond the constraints of the computer to people's mobile phones in over 85 countries around the world."
Another noticeable gain in Freecycle traction has come with the growth in ecological awareness and the simultaneous tightening of belts in tough economic times. Be it Climategate or Copenhagen, green topics are front and center, often rightly tied to economic stability. "With the double whammy of increased environmental awareness and a heightened consumer appreciation of reuse and recycling," said Freecycle founder Deron Beal in a recent press release," the recycling network had "ignited a grassroots wildfire." Beal's words can't be dismissed as mere hyperbole when considering his network's average turnaround of some 700 tons of goods per day. As he points out, "that's seven times the height of Mt. Everest in the past year alone when stacked in garbage trucks." SEE ALSO: freecycle.org
The LAS Staff
A number of the Lost At Sea staff have worked and continue to work for various publications, both independent and commercial. Often very stifling in their narrow focus, conventional media outlets left our writers hungry for something bigger, more diverse, more communal. More active, because this is the twenty-first century and it makes sense. During it's short life LAS has accomplished many of its goals (but not all) and has in turn set new ones. Everything that we accomplish is through teamwork and cooperation, both with our regular staff writers and with our contributing writers. LAS is nothing short of a collective. Another contrasting point to some of the magazines out there is that we've checked our egos and scene ethics at the door. We welcome anyone and everyone to contribute and cover a wide range of topics. LAS does not follow your guide lines.
See other articles by The LAS Staff.
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