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By Lizette Salmon, member of WATCH (Wodonga Albury Towards Climate Change)

What do slot cars, detective novels, beans and wardrobes have in common? These were all items being given away to Border residents on the Freecyle website a few mornings ago. Day in, day out, the offers just keep coming. It’s like ebay except it’s free and it’s local.

Freecycle Albury-Wodonga is dedicated to reducing local impact on landfill and building a strong, caring community in the process. They achieve this by recycling (gifting) unwanted items to others.

The concept began in Arizona in 2003 and has spread to 85 countries. It’s estimated to keep over 500 tons a day out of landfills; that’s five times the height of Mt. Everest per year if stacked as garbage trucks.

I have given away a number of items on Freecyle and delight in seeing people getting pleasure from them. Not surprisingly our dolls house and crockery set went very quickly, but more obscure goods also find homes. A 1970s fondue set was snapped up by a woman with fond memories of her parents’ fondue dinner parties, while a small analogue television went to a professional singer who planned to use it for her karaoke sessions. Yet the most popular item I posted was 20 calico bread mix bags. I’d been trying unsuccessfully to get rid of these for years and within 24 hours of posting them on Freecycle I received about a dozen expressions of interest. I passed them on to a woman who wanted to quilt them and a gardener who needed them for storing his spuds.

While it’s easy enough to drop a bag of clothes and small household items at the opportunity shop for reusing, Freecycle is an ideal way to pass on goods that are tricky to transport or that op shops reject, like electrical goods, gardenware, food stuffs, items needing repairs and oddities like my calico bags.

Albury-Wodonga Freecyle was formed in 2004 and has 3747 members. There is also a Freecyle in Wangaratta.

It’s a wonderful antidote to the throw-away mentality dominating much of our society. By giving freely with no strings attached, members instill a sense of generosity of spirit while promoting environmental sustainability. Goods are reused, repaired, rejuvenated and reloved.  From cellulite cream to salvias, our local Freecyle really does turn one person’s trash to another’s treasure.

For more information go to www.freecycle.org and follow the links to Albury/Wodonga (Vic) group.