Welcome to Part I of my series on how to quit your job, help the environment and maintain your standard of living. Of course, not everyone is going to want to actually quit their job and live like this, but the point of these blogs is to show you that it’s possible to help the environment without spending a ton of money or even exerting that much energy.
I think that too often these days, people associate “being green” with spending $200 a week on organic-only stuff at Whole Foods. That doesn’t have to be the case, which I’ll try to illustrate.
Anyway, if you haven’t heard of Freecycle yet, allow me to take you to school: Freecycle is awesome. Essentially, it’s a network of people in a community who agree to offer up for free (via a Freecycle mass email) anything that they were thinking of throwing away. For example, last week I was cleaning out my closet and found a green Michael Kors trench coat that I bought two years ago and never wore. Normally, I would have given it to charity, but I kept forgetting to actually take it to the Goodwill store.
So, I sent out a mass email to the Freecycle mailing list with “Offer: Green Michael Kors Trench Coat in Sewickley”. Sewickley is a suburb of Pittsburgh, PA, and everyone in the greater Pittsburgh area who was a member of the Freecycle group received my offer. In five minutes, I had 10 emails from different people willing to pick up the coat that day. If you’re looking for something in particular, all you have to do is send a “Wanted: Insert Desired Item Here” email and wait for somebody in the group to email you. While you may not always get what you want, you’d be surprised at what some people are willing to give away for free.
To give you an idea, in the time it’s taken me to write this post, I’ve been offered 13 skeins of yarn, a working fridge/freezer combo, an iPod mini in near mint condition and free gravel. Personally, I don’t need any of that stuff, but I’d imagine if I were into knitting I’d be psyched to get free yarn. Also, if I were a single mother whose refrigerator just crapped out, I’d be jumping for joy at the thought of not having to fork over $300+ for a replacement.
Freecycle is a great little community to belong to, and to find a group in your area, go to the Freecycle website and enter your city and state. From there, you’ll have to sign up for the Yahoo group closest to you. If you don’t have a Yahoo account, you can set one up in a couple of minutes and have all of your Yahoo Freecycle emails sent to your regular email account (I have mine sent to my Gmail account without any problems). Also, be prepared to get around 100 emails a day (although you can edit your settings to get a daily digest of all of the items being offered).
The rules are simple, before you can send out a “Wanted” email, you have to offer something up. By doing this regularly, tons of random stuff is saved from our landfills. As an added bonus, you may not have to pay for a backyard swing set for your kids or new DVD player. Being green and being cheap has never been so easy!