The Edmonton Earthcycle network is an unheralded success story. It's been around for years now, as a way to give and get free, unwanted things. With over 12,000 members and 200-250 messages (either offerings or request), it diverts an amazing amount of stuff from the landfill. And just imagine all of the great karma that it helps create!
Unfortunately, some jerk went and trademarked the term "freecycle", which is the best way to describe what the network is all about. Details on that here.
In short, once you sign up (it's through yahoo, so you're forced to get a yahoo account), you can post things that you want to receive or give. It's perfect for stuff that the Value Village and Goodwill type stores won't accept, like shelves, washing machines, old carpet, etc.
The Edmonton Earthcycle system isn't the best. I've been thinking about writing one for Green Edmonton for a while now. When my schedule frees up in 2011, I'll get right on that. The thing is, people post things through email, and once your message has been posted, it just slides down the queue. And, there are a ton of postings. So if I post that I have a dryer to give away, it's at the top of the "free stuff" list for a couple of minutes before something bumps it down, and it's easy for it to get lost in the shuffle. I'd rather a system that has things categorized, more like The Bargain Finder. Whatever. This Edmonton Earthcycle system is well-used, and does the trick. Kudos to the good citizens who moderate the very busy messages for - you guessed it - the sum of zero dollars. Thanks, guys.
Mill Creek NetZero Home (MCNZH) Deconstruction
I'm doing my dangdest to reuse/recycle as much as I can from the house that stands where the MCNZH will be built this year. I've taken out 400 square feet of maple hardwood, and 700 square feet of Douglas fir flooring.
I've also given away as much as I can of the house's contents. You need to make a philisophical shift to make giving things away easier. I could have probably eked out $100 or so by trying to sell some of the stuff, but just deciding to get nothing for it makes everything so much simpler. And, it ensures that everything that can go does since price is not a barrier.
Through my network of friends and colleagues (we have an employee "user message" system at NAIT where I work that 1200 people have access to), I've so far given away the following items from the soon-to-be-torn-down-house: a washing machine, 200 square feet of laminate flooring, two particle board shelving units, two fridges and a natural gas heater. Through Earthcycle, I was able to give away 400 square feet of carpet.
I can't seem to give away the dryer though - anyone need a dryer?
The next time you have something that seems like garbage to you but may have some value to someone else, try giving it away. Put it in the back alley with a "please take" sign on it, email all your friends with your generous offer, or sign up with the Edmonton Earthcycle network. You'll feel better for doing so.