Keep Out! (of landfills)


I think an important part of the frugal lifestyle is keeping a firm hand in green living. It just doesn't make sense to get new, plastic bags every time you go shopping. I've had my cloth bags for years and though I occasionally forget them, I always recycle my plastic.

In New York, recycling is a way of life. Every apartment at Syracuse University had a recycling bin. I signed petitions to get the state government to recycle plastic water bottles. Dasani is the water of choice at S.U.

In Florida, recycling is a mite trickier. The county I live in (Escambia) recently enacted a larger recycling program. Any standard recyclable material (glass, cardboard, paper) can now be dropped off at the recycling center. There is a pilot program of curb-side recyclable pick-ups.

The Naval base also takes recyclables (providing you're authorized to be on base).

In college, I discovered Freecycle through a friend. There are a lot of green-crunchy types at S.U. Freecycle's goal is to keep items out of landfills, 0perating on the "One man's trash is another's treasure" principle.

The groups I've been a member of all operated through Yahoo Groups. You post messages (which are delivered to your inbox) whenever you have an item you want to give away or are in need of. For example, I got an e-mail today whose subject line was this: WANT- Cotton Candy Machine. Sometimes the things people are looking for are... less than common. Still, you never know who's got something you want, collecting dust in the garage.

It's a give and take. You should offer up items as well as pick up items. It's like the Craigslist "Free" section, except with more integrity. It's well-moderated so if you're a repeat no-show at pick-ups, you're out of the group. Also, the group isn't dedicated to giving away free stuff as much as it is to keeping people from simply throwing a perfectly good item out. You name it. Puppies, old magazines, appliances, all have been offered up on Freecycle.

One word to the wise, though. If you live in a large city, you may want a separate e-mail address. I've gotten as many as twenty e-mails in five minutes as you get notifications of offers, wants, PPU (pending pick-up) and taken. A sometimes high-volume, but very effective system.

Visit to find a group near you!


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