Thursday, 22 October 2009

Fame and freebies

Well, what excitement here at Paper Flowers! Yesterday was spent frantically cleaning and tidying chez Cockatrice, as I had a film crew from ITV's Tonight with Trevor McDonald (yes, THE Trevor McDonald, icon of our times. Bong) coming to film the flat to make a programme about freecycling.

If you haven't yet discovered freecycle and you like bagging a bargain, you are about to discover that it is in fact Christmas EVERY DAY. Freecycle is an international online movement with local groups, which aims to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill by allowing people to pass on unwanted items to someone who will love them all over again. And the best bit? EVERYTHING IS FREE. You can post 'wanted' or 'offered' items, and respond to offers and requests from other freecyclers.

Below for your delectation and inspiration: a minuscule fraction of the magnificent haul I have had for free. The orchid was the most expensive thing in this photograph (£2.50 from my lovely local florist, who had decided it was past its best). Particularly fabulous freecycle finds were the gorgeous Sofa Workshop sofa, the Ikea oak Lack floating shelves and the iconic chrome Arco lamp. Quel result! And that's not to mention the sofa-bed, laptop, Gaggia coffee maker and flat-screen TV I've had though freecycle. Seriously, people, I am not even joking: GET ON THAT WEBSITE!

Clockwise from left: cushion, gift from my aunt; shelf, freecycle; radio, car boot sale; photo, gift from the photographer; clock, £1 from local antique market; picture, £2 from local fete; statuette, gift from my brother; china goldfish, given to my mum by a psychic; photo of my grandmother; boats photo, a swap with a friend; lamp, freecycle; embroidered cushion and table, on indefinite loan from my lovely neighbour, Anna!   

Certain things come up on freecycle over and over again: sofas, tv and hifi equipment that isn't quite the latest must-have-thing, all manner of furniture and more baby things than you can shake a rattle at. Much of this is stuff that people only use for a short period, so it is often in excellent condition.

Read more after the jump...
One of the bonuses of freecycling is the thrill of finding something fabulous, without the guilt of having spent money you could ill afford. What's more, instead of adding to the coffers of nasty corporations, you have contributed to your local community. The people I have met this way have been kind, generous souls to a man and woman: I have been invited in for tea, offered cocktails and homegrown produce, and made friends I am still in touch with months later.

And in case you think I'm all take and no give, I'll have you know that my old sofa, fridge, chairs, dressing table and more have all found new homes through freecycle (to my eternal gratitude and relief - have you ever tried getting a 1950s fridge out of a second floor flat? But that's a whole other story...). Sure, there will always be people who are just out for what they can get, but if it keeps usable stuff out of landfill, it's all to the good in my book.

It's worth mentioning that many UK groups have recently split from the main freecycle organisation, which is based in the US, and which, it has been claimed, has been unwilling to let UK groups make changes to suit local needs. The new UK movement is called Freegle, and you can find your local group here. Local UK Freecycle groups which haven't broken away can be found here. What are you waiting for? Go get that free stuff!

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