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A few years ago I stopped at a yard sale just before it was about to close. The sellers were already piling their unsold wares by the curb for garbage pick-up. “Take anything you want,” they said, “it’s free.”

I looked through the “trash” and found some great items. That day I rescued from the landfill an Eames Era office chair, a set of stereo speakers, some books, and 2 artificial wreaths. The landfills loss was my gain and hopefully a gain for the environment, too.

To often people simply throw good items into the trash because it’s the easiest and quickest way to dispose of them. Unfortunately, doing what’s quick and easy isn’t always the best thing for the environment.

Don’t think that just because you don’t want your stuff any more, that no one would want it. If your unwanted items are in good, usable condition, chances are there is someone out there who would love to have them.

If cleaning clutter out of your life is one of your goals, you can help yourself and the environment by joining the Freecycle Network. The concept is simple. You post an offer listing your unwanted items and people who need those items respond by email. You then choose a deserving person and arrange for the items to be pickup. If you want your item to go to a charity or non-profit organization then you can specify that as a condition of your offer.

Offers can included just about anything, as long as it’s legal, family oriented and free. A few of the items that were offered this week by members of my local Freecycle Group included: kids clothes, some leather purses, a dresser, a workout mat, children’s books, a wedding dress, ink cartridges, a range hood, a computer, a coffee maker, several bags of unopened pasta, beer mugs and many other useful items.

If the Freecycle philosophy appeals to you and you’d like to become a member, then start by finding your local Freecycle Group at Click on your country or region to see a listing of groups for your area. There are over 3,000 Freecycle groups worldwide, so chances are there is one near you.

The first thing you should do once you join is read the rules about how to post and what items are acceptable to offer. You might also want to lurk for a few days and become familiar with the way the site works. When you feel your ready, start cleaning out those closets and posting offers. Soon your clutter will be just a memory, but be careful, once that closet is cleaned out you just might fill it up again with items you’ve acquired from your fellow Freecycle members.

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