Find Bargains Fast with GarageSalesTracker.com

GarageSalesTracker.com is a useful tool for both sellers and buyers. Check it out! Logo art: Courtesy GarageSalesTracker.com

Been to a garage sale yet this summer? It’s not too late to catch bargains in your own neighborhood or even at a bit of a distance, if you know where to look. Drive around your town most any weekend, and you’re likely to see garage sale signs posted on several residential corners. But there’s an easier way (and one that takes less gas) than cruising the neighborhood to look for bargains: GarageSalesTracker.com.

Blue Planet Green Living spoke today with GarageSalesTracker.com‘s head of marketing, Rich Ruddie, who assists founder Franz Longsworth with everything from “answering emails to contacting people about working together, to taking phone calls like this, to customer support, and everything in between.” We think this is a great idea that’s sure to catch on. It will become an even more helpful resource as more of us sign on to post our garage sales. (What’s not to like about free advertising?) — Julia Wasson, Publisher


BPGL: How did the site get started?

RUDDIE: It came about when Franz was driving around and saw a garage sale sign. He wondered if anyone had ever thought to advertise their garage sales on line instead of always just putting out signs. He looked into it, and didn’t find much of use. He decided to make a site that was easy to use, specifically with the bargain hunter in mind for garage sales, flea markets, and estate sales. He added the Google map feature, which allows the user, when you sign up, to get turn-by-turn directions from your home address to the garage sale. That way, people don’t have to waste money on gas trying to find the address.

BPGL: What are some of the services that folks will find on your site?

Looking for back-to-school clothes? Check GarageSalesTracker.com. Photo: Courtesy Rich Ruddie

RUDDIE: The garage sales, yard sales, and estate sales that users can list with us. We also work with a handful of local publications and a service in Wisconsin, as well, called Rummage Wisconsin. We syndicate their data to help expand listings come the weekend. We also have the directory that we built of all the consignment stores that are publicly listed, as well as the flea markets in the country. If you’re in Dubuque, and you wanted to type in Dubuque flea markets, you’ll find a listing of a handful of those. It’s got the address and contact information (if the number they gave us is valid). So that’s really cool.

We also have the iPhone app. If you have either an iPod Touch or an iPhone, you can go right from your phone, turn it on. It will find where you are, and you can find all the sales within whatever radius you’re willing to travel. If you’re willing to travel 10 miles within your area, it will show you all the garage sales for that particular week. And the really cool thing about that is, you can then hit MAP, and with the GPS function built into the iPhone, it will show exactly where you are, where the sale is, how many miles it is, and then it will give you directions to the sale.

BPGL: Where can users find estate sales listed?

RUDDIE: The estate sales are listed in with garage sales. We don’t have those separated at this time. Eventually, we’re thinking of setting up a particular area just for estate sales and antique shops.

BPGL: What is the advantage to joining the site?

RUDDIE: The advantage is, when you register with the site, if you’re browsing sales and don’t know where all those sales are, when you have your information in there and go to find a sale, it will already populate from your home address to the address that you’re trying to go to. Also, if you see somebody is having a sale and they’re selling board games or a dart board that you want to get, you can send them an email right through the form. They can email you back without your giving up your email address.

BPGL: Presumably somebody would say, “Would you hold onto that dart board for me? I’ll pay you extra — or something like that.

RUDDIE: Absolutely. I listed a sale we were having, and I got a couple people who said, “Hey, can I come early? I want to grab that couch. Do you have any extra photos?” We actually ended up having our programmer, when he did a little bit of a redesign, he added in an Early Bird section to say whether early birds are welcome or not welcome. Or, rain or shine, you can come. That’s where the idea came. A lot of people make a living from garage sales. They come early to as many sales as they can before the sun comes up, and they end up selling the stuff on Craig’s List or eBay or something like that, and they turn a nice little profit.

BPGL: That’s a useful thing to be able to say, “Early Birds welcome” or “Don’t you dare!”

RUDDIE: I’ve written a lot of helpful tips and advice for having garage sales. A lot of people do tell me, “Let the people know whether early birds are welcome or not, because if you don’t, you can guarantee they’ll be knocking on your door before everything’s all set up. If you’re trying to set up at 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning, you’ll have a guy knocking on your door already, and he or she is trying to purchase some of your antiques, it’s going to slow you down from setting up. It can throw your whole day off.

BPGL: Do you write the blog, Rich?

RUDDIE: I write most of them. But Blogger changed the way they do things, and now we have to go to a custom subdomain, blog.garagesalestracker.com. So the programmer is busy, and unfortunately we haven’t been able to update the blog and make those changes yet. I’ve wrote up a whole bunch of posts in anticipation of whenever the blog comes back on line.

BPGL: Is there a charge for using GarageSalesTracker.com?

RUDDIE: It’s completely free. People ask us all the time. It is free listings. We hope to make money eventually from advertisers, because we have targeted demographics.

Find bargains and oddities of all kinds at garage sales and flea markets through GarageSaleTracker.com. Photo: Rich Ruddie

BPGL: What’s your personal passion about all this, Rich? Why are you doing this?

RUDDIE: Every Saturday and Sunday, my mom and I would go to garage sales and yard sales and flea markets. I’m originally from Maryland, and there were a couple flea markets that we always went to in the summertime. I came to school down in South Florida, and I ran into a friend who told me that his uncle was working with the gentleman who founded a garage sales website. He put us in touch and got me in. And here I am today, doing my part. I told my mom, “Hey, we always used to go to garage sales, and I got an opportunity with this really cool concept. It’s a new idea that hasn’t really been done.” She said, “You’ve gotta go for it!”

The other main reason is that I like to live by a motto to leave the world a better place than you found it. Hopefully, the next generation can expand upon that concept, and make the world better than they found it, and the cycle will continue on forever. That includes recycling, and having a comprehensive site for bargain hunters will help expand that vision of re-usable goods.

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

The Creative Circus Students Say, “Nice Backside” to Used Paper

Christina Caluda, a student at The Creative Circus, eagerly reaches for one of the free booklets made from the backsides of student papers. Photo: Marc Risik

When Blue Planet Green Living received a press release from The Creative Circus, a school that specializes in training the creative geniuses of the future in advertising, design and other fields, it seemed only natural to ask that a student write the story for us. So, we invited Sarah Gatling, a copywriting student at The Creative Circus, to submit the news article for publication. She’s a bit shy about taking credit, as she’s writing about an event she helped organize, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Here’s Sarah’s report on yesterday’s activities at Creative Circus. — Julia Wasson, Publisher


The event team posted notes saying, "Nice backside" on used paper. Photo: Marc Risik

As you might guess from its name, students at The Creative Circus, an advertising portfolio school in Atlanta, are among the most talented and creative minds in the nation. Constantly immersed in the creative process, they learn what it takes to excel in the advertising, interactive, design, and photography industries. And they learn that “what it takes” is often a lot of paper.

A small group of students realized that members of the student body were discarding more than 5000 sheets of paper per week on campus. More shocking: Most of this paper was being recycled after it had only been used on one side.

At a school where creativity reigns king, they knew something unprecedented had to be done to change the way paper is used.

Posters such as this one informed students and faculty of the reason behind the project. Photo: Marc Risik

On Monday, July 19th, students, faculty, and administration were stunned when they arrived to a campus adorned in advertisements and free notebooks made using students’ previously discarded paper. The message? Flip the page over and use the backside. Fresh ideas don’t need fresh sheets of paper.

It may seem obvious that using the backside of paper for brainstorming and sketching would drastically reduce paper usage. But students are proud of their ideas, and want them presented as nicely as possible in class. The challenge of the campaign lay in shifting the paper usage paradigms of the students and faculty.

The surprise, paper production was unconventional and well-received. The positive buzz that the advertisements and notebooks generated in the colorful hallways speaks of a greener future at The Creative Circus.

Sarah Gatling

Guest Contributor

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

ModCloth Ecopreneur Turns Vintage Shopping into Successful Career

Susan Koger, ModCloth.com founder and ecopreneur

Susan Koger, ModCloth.com founder and ecopreneur

The state of the economy isn’t the only reason people today are wearing used clothing. Many people find the retro fashion appealing — and environmentally responsible. Blue Planet Green Living interviewed ecopreneur Susan Gregg Koger to learn about her uber-popular, online clothing store, which started with her passion for vintage clothes. — Julia Wasson, Publisher


Seven years ago, Susan Gregg Koger began ModCloth.com by selling vintage clothing online from her Carnegie Mellon University dorm room. Later that day, she had her very first sale.

Now, ModCloth.com is an internationally recognized brand and the number one Google search result for indie clothing, retro clothing, and vintage outfits. It has expanded to include a mix of vintage-inspired wear.

ModCloth clothes are great for work or play. Photo courtesy: ModCloth.com

ModCloth clothes are great for work or play. Photo courtesy: ModCloth.com

The site has its roots in Koger’s teenage fascination with vintage shopping. She now mixes business with pleasure and still considers thrifting a hobby.

“I’m so lucky I get to shop for a living,” Koger says. “To de-stress on the weekends, I go to buy vintage clothing. It’s time consuming, but it’s fun and rewarding work.”

The site sells a wide variety of retro items, from dresses to shoes to bathing suits. But the highlight, for many shoppers, is that Koger features a single vintage item on the site each day. These items sell quickly — typically between 10 to 15 minutes after they are posted. The ModCloth staff, based out of Pennsylvania, use their knowledge of fashion history to identify the era of the vintage clothing.

“There are some tells like the designer, type of zipper, button, etc., that make it apparent which era the item is from,” explains Koger.

Always an advocate of wearing pre-owned clothing to be eco-friendly, Koger says, “Whenever you can re-use something, you should.”

They don’t make clothing like they used to, anyway,” Koger points out. “If clothing that is 40 years old still holds up, why not wear it?”

According to the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association, the average American throws away about 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per year, which makes shopping for pre-worn clothes all the more beneficial for sustainable living.

Spending time as a teenage “thrifter” has made Koger vintage-shopping savvy. She agrees, however, that it can be difficult to find cute, stylish, pre-worn clothes. She offers several tips for beginning thrifters.

  • Search through Craigslist for estate and garage sales
  • Pull any items that look interesting
  • Don’t be afraid to alter: taking a re-used item to a tailor will still cost less than buying it new
  • Learn how to sew to alter items at home
  • Rework vintage: turn a maxi skirt into a dress or use beautiful fabric for curtains
There's nothing better than a little black dress. Photo courtesy: ModCloth.com

Every woman needs a little black dress. Photo courtesy: ModCloth.com

Koger tries hard to be environmentally conscious with the new items she sells on the site, as well. She buys non-vintage clothing in organic materials whenever it fits her style’s aesthetic — currently around 10 percent of the new clothing. Koger also attempts to find items manufactured in the United States whenever possible, both to cut down on transportation costs and to keep a small carbon footprint.

ModCloth.com also sells other eco-friendly products, such as re-usable shopping bags and coffee mugs. The ModLife section of the site features a “Green Scene” blog.

Koger proves herself to be a savvy environmentalist and ecopreneur, as well as a top-rated vintage shopper. Besides selling re-worn, organic, and re-usable items, the staff also donates money and time to local charities. This past Earth Day, Koger donated 10 percent of the site’s daily profit — totaling over $4,000 — to the Pennsylvania Resources Council. Users of the site participated in selecting the charity: They suggested their favorites, then ModCloth chose the top four. The contest was then turned back to the users, who voted to select one charity. More traffic and higher sales than average contributed to this donation. ModCloth also contributed their time to help plant trees in the Pittsburgh area.

After all her years of browsing through racks of old clothes, what does Koger find to be the one drawback to the hobby? “Finding a beautiful pair of vintage shoes that are not in my size,” laments Koger. “It’s tragic to part with them, because they are the one thing that cannot be altered.”

Brigette Fanning
Contributing Writer

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Think Like a Pioneer: Turn Your Trash Into Treasure

Comments Off on Think Like a Pioneer: Turn Your Trash Into Treasure

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. It’s a mantra for green living that we’ve all heard for years. And while recycling has become more and more mainstream, with even Grandma lugging the blue box out for curbside recycling, and sorting and filtering for her weekly trip to City Carton [recycling plant], Reduce and Reuse have been nearly forgotten in the recycling frenzy.

Melting old crayons can give them new life. Photo: New Pioneer Co-op

Melting old crayons can give them new life. Photo: New Pioneer Co-op

It’s not yet trendy to make noticeable cutbacks and people will definitely look at you funny if you tell them you are making a vase out of a burned out light bulb. But the times they are a’ changin’ and one thing is for sure: Reducing and reusing are equally important components of this three-part commitment to living more sustainably.

We must start thinking harder about reducing and reusing. I feel like I’ve been mouthing the words for years without considering their meaning, comfortable in the fact that I’m doing my part. The truth is we cannot begin to affect climate change by recycling alone; we must incorporate all three of these ideas into our daily routine. Read on for some of our favorite ways to make new stuff from your old stuff.

Crayons, Reborn: This is a fun project to make with the kids. Take your old nubs and remove the paper. Pre-heat your oven to 275°. Place crayons in a mold or lined muffin cups (we used silicon tart cups). Place in the oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool and unmold. You can also reuse old candle wax in the same manner, just add a piece of wick before the wax sets.

Tin Cans: Covering tin cans is fun and easy and there’s about a million things you can store in them. Use old magazines, tissue paper, typewriter ribbon, or photos to make your desired collage. Then just use plain old school glue and an old paintbrush to paste your collection to a clean tin can. Add buttons, beads, shells, old broken jewelry bits, or anything you can imagine. You can store cooking utensils, pens and pencils, flowers, coins, and all kinds of good stuff in these decorative cans.

Jars & Bottles: My new favorite use for old jars is to shake up oil-based salad dressings. The shaking effectively emulsifies the oil and vinegar and you can store your dressings in the fridge in these jars. Jars can also be used for bath salts, storing nails and screws (old baby food jars fastened to the wall of your garage is a great place to keep all kinds of useful small parts), a jar for your morning coffee, vases, storing beads, keeping leftovers, carrying water to the dog park, packaging gifts, shaking up gravy, and storing bulk nuts.

An old light bulb can become an elegant hanging vase. Photo: New Pioneer Co-op

An old light bulb can become an elegant hanging vase. Photo: New Pioneer Co-op

Old Light Bulbs: Old light bulbs make adorable vases. Hollow out the bulb (instructions are at TeamDroid), then turn it into a pretty vase. Visit Instructables for detailed instructions.

Dry-Cleaning Hangers: A quick survey of area cleaners reveals: YES! Dry cleaners will take back and reuse hangers. They request that hangers be in good repair.

Coffee Cans: Use to collect spare change, or as a scoop for the sandbox or litter box.

Egg Cartons: Use to pack Christmas ornaments, sprout seedlings, store golf balls, or as a palette for paints.

Newspapers: Roll Christmas lights around old newspapers. Shred and use for packaging fragile items. Use as gift wrap. Wash windows — newspapers are the best way [to] get streak-free windows. Stuff into hats or purses while storing to retain their shape. If you have a farm, they can be shredded and used for animal bedding or to create garden mulch.

Plastic Bags: Reuse as a trash can liner or for shopping, as a trash can for your car, for dirty clothes storage when you go on a trip, or for picking up pet poo. Old zip-top plastic bags can be re-purposed for storing pens, pencils, markers, or crayons.

Plastic Bottles and Containers: I love storing cheese (especially hard cheese) in “clam shells” from New Pi’s deli. Refill tiny “travel size” bottles with more lotion, soap, and shampoos for your next trip. Send leftovers home with friends in old sour cream, salsa, and cottage cheese containers; they won’t have to worry about returning your “Tupperware.” Punch holes in the bottoms of plastic containers and use them as planters with the lid placed underneath to catch the drainage. Refill old plastic soap dispensers with bulk soap and reuse old spray bottles for spritzing your plants with water.

Wine Bottles: We made a cute soap dispenser out of an old wine bottle. Mara designed the fun label and printed it on label paper. The topper is a 1 oz. wine pourer. These are sweet gifts. You can also invert this design and hang it by a decorative wire to make a hummingbird feeder. For a pretty table decoration, fill the bottle with a short strand of Christmas lights and decorate with shimmery ribbons, glitter, or beads.

Fabric Softener Sheets: Put them in drawers after using to keep clothes smelling fresh. Get rid of static by rubbing them over staticky clothing.

CD’s: Make coasters by decorating old cd’s and covering the bottom with cork. Use as a paint palette, or bust them into pieces to use as bike reflectors. Visit Jim Watters’ PhotoCreations to see how to make a funky lamp from old cd’s.

Create a funky shopping bag from an old t-shirt. Photo: New Pioneer Co-op

Create a funky shopping bag from an old t-shirt. Photo: New Pioneer Co-op

Old Mouse Pads: Cut into squares and affix to the bottom of your furniture to protect the legs from scratching up your floor. Cover with fabric to make coasters.

Boxes and Cardboard: Reuse tissue boxes to hold plastic grocery bags.

T-shirt Bag: Take your old favorite t-shirt and turn it inside-out. Cut off the sleeves inside the seam. Get a bowl (I used a 10″ diameter bowl) and trace a half-circle around the neck of the t-shirt. Cut out the half-circle. Sew the bottom shut. Turn it right-side out. I recommend a sturdy small or medium sized shirt for a handy shopping bag size.

Here are some great resources to find free stuff in your community:

Scoodi

Neighborrow

Freecycle

Sources:

Recycling Revolution

Green Living Ideas

TeamDroid

Recycle This

Pioneer Thinking

GreenStudentU

Choose to Reuse, by Nikki & David Goldbeck

Reprinted by permission from The Catalyst, New Pioneer Co-op‘s Newsletter, c. 2009

Former Chef Now Cooks Up Biofuels

October 31, 2008 by  
Filed under Biofuels, Blog, Cooking Oil, Ecopreneurs, Front Page, Iowa

Comments Off on Former Chef Now Cooks Up Biofuels

Filling the biofuel tanks. Photo: Steve Fugate

Filling the biofuel tanks. Photo: Steve Fugate

Steve Fugate, biofuels ecopreneur and co-owner of Green World Biofuels, talks with Joe Hennager of Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL).


BPGL: Steve, I’ve known you for about 10 years as a chef at Iowa City’s best-known local diner. I know everyone around here asks you this, but what made you give that up and get into biofuel production?

FUGATE: I had been making biodiesel for a couple of years and had begun conducting workshops to educate people. I quickly grew tired of troubleshooting the inadequate equipment that was on the market. My wife, Wende, and I had extraordinary success producing our own biofuel and I had expertise in acquiring waste cooking oil from restaurants. So, I decided to pursue marketing an effective turnkey biodiesel production system and educating the fuel- and education-hungry masses full time.

BPGL: Tell me about your production system for people to make their own biodiesel.

Green World Biofuels production facility. Photo: Courtesy Green World Biofuels

Green World Biofuels production facility. Photo: Steve Fugate

FUGATE: We have one model, the Ester Machine, that has proven to be the perfect balance between efficiency, time and cost. The Ester Machine is capable of producing 80 gallons in 10 hours or about 24,000 gallons per year at full capacity. We’ve found that smaller batch sizes increase cost and time per gallon. We also sell a production enhancer, The Double Dry System, which triples the production capacity of the Ester Machine for a combined output of 80,000 gallons per year.

BPGL: How much would someone have to invest to begin making their own fuel?

FUGATE: The Ester Machine retails for less than $8,000 and is the most complete system on the market today.

BPGL: Obviously, a potential customer will be someone who is driving a diesel vehicle. Who is your typical customer?

FUGATE: We have an extremely diverse customer base that includes contractors, cooperatives, a trucking company, a university, government agencies, farmers and individuals. Some use their systems a couple of times a month, and one produces 2,000 gallons of biofuel per week. They are all inquisitive and eager to do something right now to reduce their fuel bill.

BPGL: The price of fuel is going down right now. How is this affecting your sales?

Green World Esther Machines ready for shipment. Photo: Steve Fugate

FUGATE: Right now, gasoline is $2.19, Diesel $3.25, and biodiesel is around $4.00. The gold rush mentality that we saw has cooled considerably but that is okay with us. The folks that are still interested tend to be the more forward thinking, intelligent folks we have always sought. Desperate people make poor decisions and, with the pressure off, now is an excellent time to get busy and lock in the feedstock that we are dependent on.

BPGL: How cheaply can you produce a gallon of biodiesel? How many gallons of fuel consumption, at today’s prices, will a customer of yours have to burn to pay off one of your systems? What’s the average person’s return on investment (ROI)?

FUGATE: I hate to give simplistic answers to complicated questions, but the cost of the chemicals and electricity were about $.86 per gallon last month. The cost of the oil, collecting it, and the value of your time are highly variable. I was saving over $3.00 per gallon this spring. At that rate, a machine can pay for itself in a couple of months. We offer a great deal of support to our customers in achieving high levels of efficiency and reducing total cost of ownership.

BPGL: What do you think is the most important issue harming our planet right now?

FUGATE: The most pressing issue that we can actually change right now is the absolutely staggering amount of energy that we use. Our very existence and the American way of life is put at risk by our unwillingness to reduce consumption, recycle, conserve or even fully utilize the resources we have paid for. European power plants are twice as efficient as ours, and the average citizen uses half the power we do. Thirty percent of all cars on the planet are in the US! Our economy is based on cheap petroleum and with the cost of oil up several hundred percent, we are at serious risk of driving off the proverbial cliff.

A customer's truck is loaded with a new supply of biofuel from Green World Biofuels. Photo: Steve Fugate

BPGL: Why should people produce their own biodiesel? What difference will it make? Why should we care? Pretend I am McCain. Convince me.

FUGATE: Producing your own biodiesel from post-consumer oil not only reduces foreign oil imports but also allows you to keep the money not spent at gas stations at work in the community. We are shipping trillions of dollars to OPEC nations. Exxon profited $15 billion last quarter! Shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to keep some of those dollars in our own pockets? Don’t expect our government to do anything meaningful; it’s up to each of us to begin to do what we can. WE must start now if we hope to get anywhere.

Joe Hennager

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Freecycle: “Changing the World One Gift at a Time”

October 31, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Freecycle, Front Page, Tips

Avoid the landfill by contributing useful goods through Freecycle.com. Photo: Joe Hennager

Avoid the landfill by contributing useful goods through Freecycle.com. Photo: Joe Hennager

I’ll bet you’ve got stuff you don’t want anymore. It’s still too useful to trash or recycle, but nothing you want to keep. One good choice is to donate it to a charity group for resale. Still, there are things even Goodwill won’t take, but that others might want. How do you find a home for that half can of lavender paint or old-style television? Freecycle it.

If you’re not yet aware of Freecycle, it’s time you got acquainted. The whole point of Freecycle is landfill avoidance. Maybe you’re tired of that sweater Aunt Nellie crocheted for you, but you don’t think you could sell it (or just don’t want to bother). Freecycle gives you an alternative to trashing it.

Freecycle is actually a two-way service. You can offer something you no longer want (a bathroom scale, a skillet, or a large couch, for example). And you can ask for something you need (a double stroller for twins, canning supplies, a wrench set, etc.). All kinds of goods change hands between strangers who would otherwise never know of each other’s needs.

The main restriction is that everything must be truly free. No strings. No behind the scenes requests for money. Strings-attached transactions will get you kicked off the list in a hurry.

If you’ve never used Freecycle, you’ll want to pay attention to the rules and etiquette.

1. If you ask, offer. It’s just good manners. Let’s say you want an old lawn mower. What have you got to offer someone else? Maybe you’ve got a tree full of apples that would make great pies. It’s unlikely that the person with an old lawn mower to give will be the same person who wants your apples. That’s okay. The theory is, what goes around comes around — eventually. Everyone who participates gets multiple opportunities to give and get.

2. Be polite. Don’t forget the pleases and thank-yous that your parents taught you. If you’re rude, you stand to be blackballed by individuals you’ve offended — not necessarily by the list as a whole, but don’t count on getting any freebies from a person you’ve insulted.

3. Be entertaining. People who offer things may get dozens of responses. If yours is the most entertaining or sincere, the person with the goodies to give may decide to give the item to you. So make ’em laugh. Or try a little heartfelt poem. What’ve you got to lose?

4. Be honest. If that vaporizer you’re offering is missing a piece, make sure you say so. Someone else may need the parts that you’ve got. But don’t try to fool anyone into thinking you’re giving away a perfect gem, if, in fact, it’s not.

5. Follow the rules. Freecycle has specific guidelines about what can and cannot be posted. No pornography, no guns, no medicines, no alcohol, no tobacco. There are a few more “nos.” Check them out before you offer anything that might be questionable.

6. Be careful. Sadly, not every environmentally minded individual is trustworthy. You probably won’t know the people you contact through Freecycle. Consider making the exchange in a public place. Or leave the items on your porch for pickup. Don’t tell anyone that you won’t be home at a certain time. Safety first. Always.

So, don’t hang onto those Halloween costumes that no longer fit, the roller blades sitting in your garage gathering dust, even that twin bed your kids left behind when they went to college. Sign up for Freecycle and let someone else enjoy your castoffs. You’ll get the double benefit of making someone else’s day and clearing a path in your home or garage.

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)