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Free for all!



CLEARINGHOUSE SPECIAL Turn your trash into treasure and save precious landfill space with SLO Freecycle, an online sharing network for giving and getting started by Los Osos resident Judy Sullivan.

   At the end of the week, this newspaper will probably be recycled. It’s just the right thing to do, right? But then, around here we recycle glass and plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and Styrofoam, too. We turn yard waste into mulch and coffee grounds into fertilizer. We are a community of recyclers. Why? Because it’s good for the environment and we live in a beautiful place that deserves to be preserved. And by recycling, we save room in our landfills for un-recyclable waste, like garbage.

    But what about old furniture, or appliances, or books, or clothes— what happens to them at the end of the week? Sometimes this junk gets donated to thrift stores, sometimes it’s sold at yard sales. But more often than not, it’s considered garbage and is hauled off to the dump, where it’s added to a growing pile of refuse. But before we condemn our tossed-off sofas and coffee tables to the landfill, maybe we should consider another option: recycling. With the help of SLO Freecycle, part of a worldwide web-based sharing network, you can find a new home for your old things, help somebody out, and effectively keep waste out of the landfill for a little bit longer.

    Local Freecycle organizer Judy Sullivan started the SLO chapter back in 2004 when she decided there were more than a few things in her home she wanted to get rid of. But driving it all to a donation center or even having a yard sale seemed like too much of a hassle. This Freecycle thing, however, sounded great. And it was just too easy: Post a notice online listing things you’re trying to get rid of, and if someone in your community wants it, they’ll come and get it. She signed up San Luis as a participating community in the grassroots program, and now the local chapter is 1,300 members strong.

     “The great thing about this network is that the more people who are involved in it, the more stuff there is to give and get,� says Sullivan, who recently scored an “almost new� wing-backed chair from a network member. Totally free. “And the more stuff we give and get, the less stuff winds up in the landfill.�

    If you don’t have anything to give, but you’re looking for something in particular— say a twin-sized bed, or a toaster, or even a gallon of paint — you can post a request on the website. If somebody has what you’re looking for, they’ll let you know. They give, you get, and waste is diminished. It’s really a win-win-win situation.

    Outfit a classroom with new desks or computer screens. Furnish your new apartment and stop sleeping on the floor. Finally get rid of your husband’s shot glass collection. Rugs, shoes, ink cartridges, dishes, hats — turn your trash into treasure with the click of a mouse.
 This program is good for everybody: individuals and groups, nonprofit organizations, schools, college students, spring cleaners, givers and takers. These are the rules: Everything must be free, legal, and appropriate for all ages. That’s it. Oh, and one more thing: If you can give it away, don’t throw it away. Reduce, reuse, Freecycle.

 For more info, go to

New Times Staff Writer Alice Moss reuses her holiday wrapping paper every year. Send your scraps to

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