In the meantime, I encourage everyone to join their local FreeCycle group. It's a great way to find things you need (especially if you live in an urban area) and it prevents useful items from winding up in the landfill prematurely, polluting the soil and water supply. I recommend new members select the one-email-a-day notification option; otherwise you might find hundreds of emails crowding your inbox. For more information on this growing movement, read Michelle Nijhuis's "Free-For-All" in the November/December issue of Sierra Magazine.
"Maybe you have a closetful of clothes you rarely wear. Or a garage stuffed with underused sports equipment. Or a garden shed packed with rusting tools. Come on, admit it—it's time to purge. But how do you get rid of unwanted stuff without being wasteful? Thanks to an Internet phenomenon known as the Freecycle Network (freecycle.org), doing so can be easier, and a lot more fun, than you might think. Founder Deron Beal had his brainstorm two years ago while working for a small nonprofit recycling organization in Tucson, Arizona. During his daily pickup rounds, Beal noticed that many businesses were also tossing out office supplies, telephones, even old computers. So he created a simple e-mail subscription list, signed up a few friends and members of other community groups, and posted items to give away—the first listing was for a queen-size bed—while encouraging others to claim anything they could use. By finding willing takers for others' castoffs, Beal hoped to not only help his neighbors but also keep useful items out of landfills. "I thought, 'If I give this a nifty name, it might just take off,'" he remembers."
Americans generate 87 percent more garbage today than in 1975, a growth rate more than twice that of our population. Considering this statistic - and the increasing price of oil and gas - FreeCycle seems not only helpful, but essential.
In other recycling news, please make sure you visit CollectiveGood when it comes time for you to part ways with an old cell phone. This group does a far better job of recycling the unit than, say, the RadioShack recycling program, plus you don't have to deal with uninformed clerks who find the concept of recycling downright peculiar.