Do you ever find yourself throwing out items that are still usable, but you just no longer have room for? – or someone has bought you a newer version of an item and so you no longer need the old one?
And have you ever wished there was something better that could be done with the old item than throwing it into landfill to rot? – well there is, and that is Birmingham Freegle!
The idea is very simple: at the point you decide you no longer have a use for an item, you offer it to someone else for free. If they want it then they come and get it from you. Likewise, if you want something but can’t afford it then you are more than welcome to come onto the site and ask for it.
The idea has been around for some time – it started off as Freecycle in the USA, and I heard about it on the news: I thought that there had to be a local group already established in Birmingham, but as it turned out there wasn’t – and so I started it!
Then Freecycle in America went through some organisational changes and us Brits decided we didn’t want to be part of their set-up any more, and so we split-off and came up with the name Freegle for the UK side of things. The basic idea stayed very much the same though.
There are 30,000 members in the group and it launched in 2004. I don’t know how much waste has been diverted from landfill as a result of it – but it is more than would have been the case had the group never existed.
And the amount of waste avoided by keeping just one item out of landfill is huge: you do not have to mine and process the raw materials to create a new version – you do not have to manufacture, transport, sell or market it – all on top of the pollution and waste created when a perfectly usable item it just thrown in the ground because someone has bought a new, upgraded version.
Over the years of running Freegle in Birmingham I have learned that someone is almost always interested in the items you thought no one could possibly want. My mission is to make everyone in Birmingham think “hmmm – could someone else use this if I gave it away for free?” as the moment they are about to throw away something that still has use in it.