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   Inside Out - West: Friday January 12, 2007
House buyers
"One person's trash can be another's treasure..."
With the high cost of house buying, Freecycling is booming

Freecycling - the green solution?

Going green is an increasingly popular lifestyle choice for many people.

Tessa Dunlop meets a woman who is using the web to go 'eco-friendly' and furnish her house for free.

Marilyn from Wiltshire uses an Internet site called Freecycle, an online recycling centre.

Freecycle has brought her much more than furniture - it's also led to new friendships and a feeling of community.

Trash treasury

The green's mantra is "reduce, re-use and recycle".

Freecycle's mission is to stop people throwing goods away.

It started in the USA three years ago and already boasts over two million members world-wide.

Freecycle says that, "one person's trash can be another's treasure", leading some people to Freecycle complete homes.

The concept is simple and it couldn't be easier to get started.

If you have something to give away, you join your local branch of the Freecycle Network, offer it for free, and then wait for e-mails from people like Marilyn.

Starting over

Marilyn and her husband are English but have spent most of their lives living in South Africa.

Freecycle fact file

Freecyle is a website which started in the US three years ago. Its roots are green minded. It is now taking the UK by storm.

Freecycle has two million members world-wide.

The world-wide Freecycle Network is made up of many individual groups world wide.

Freecycle is a grassroots movement of people who give (and get) stuff for free in their own towns and cities.

Each local group is run by local volunteer moderators.

Membership is free.

There is one rule - everything posted must be free.

Freecycle promotes giving your unwanted stuff away as opposed to throwing it in the tip and needlessly filling up landfill sites.

The interest in sustainable living has fuelled the boom in Freecycle's activities.

Her husband recently lost the job he had spent most of his working life doing working for a pharmaceutical company.

He could not find work and the couple decided to come back to England where two of their children had moved earlier.

They sold their farm and land, and gave away most of their belongings to their maid and friends.

Marilyn and her husband are basically starting their lives from scratch with little money, so Freecycle has been hugely important to get the things they need.

The money they got from their house in South Africa could not get them onto the property ladder in England, so they were forced to rent while they tried to get back on their feet.

The only place they could find within their budget was a unfurnished house in Trowbridge.

With limited funds they decided to use Freecycle to furnish their new home.

After only a few weeks on the Freecycle website, Marilyn hit the jackpot and offers of furniture came flooding in.

Furniture and friendship

Thanks to Freecycle the couple were able to move into their new house on Saturday 13th May, 2006.

But it wasn't until the moving-day that Marilyn finally met the people who helped her to set up home.

One of them was Jill Shepherd who lives just a few miles away and, has now become an e-mail buddy through Freecycle.

Both Marilyn and Jill are Freecycle converts.

Marilyn is particularly keen to stress that she is not a scrounger.

She says that when the couple finally get back on their feet, they will Freecycle everything back.

Her new friend Jill, who provided some of the furniture through Freecycle, has given away nearly all her worldly goods.

She is moving onto a houseboat and needs to downsize - her donation of goods to Freecycle is helping others get back on track.

Thanks to Freecycle, both women have gained much more from Freecycle than just furniture - they've made new "green" friends.

From desperation to hope

Canadian-born Corrine Irvine who lives in Barton Hill is helping to promote the West Country Freecycle sites on the network.

Corrine is a keen advocator of the "reduce and recycle" concept.

Originally from Canada where she worked in run down communities as a care worker, she first used Freecycle in her job.

She would find things for refuges and people who were moving into homes after fires or were struggling with poverty.

Recycling logo
Recycling Freecycle style is booming

Corrine came to England in 2006 and decided to live in the West Country after meeting a man with whom she started a relationship.

When she arrived, she found that her partner had a council house but no furniture, and his five children were all sleeping on the floor.

She Freecycled a house for them but one day, after returning from a job interview, she found that he had taken everything, leaving her homeless.

A woman she had met from Freecycle helped her to find a new place and gave her friendship.

Corinne now lives in Barton Hill and is trying to work with community groups in Bristol.

She is still an active member of Freecycle but now she gives things away rather then taking things.

Like the other Freecyclers, her life has been totally transformed by Freecyling.

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