Freecycle Red Deer part of a global initiative

A local group partaking in a global environmental initiative encourages Central Alberta residents to declutter with care.

Heather Madsen uses the online site Freecycle Red Deer to give and receive various items that would otherwise go to waste.

Heather Madsen uses the online site Freecycle Red Deer to give and receive various items that would otherwise go to waste.

A local group partaking in a global environmental initiative encourages Central Alberta residents to declutter with care.

Freecycle Red Deer — one of the more than 4,700 worldwide groups that make up the Freecycle Network — is an online community forum where people can offer and request items that would otherwise go to waste.

“Our primary goal is just to keep reusable items out of the landfill,” explained Kristina Sveinson, a Freecycle Red Deer moderator.

The Freecycle movement began in 2003 in Arizona with the mandate to reduce, reuse and recycle goods instead of trashing them.

The only limitations on what can be posted on the site are that the items must be free, legal and family friendly.

Today, there are more than 7.2 million international members offering belongings such as clothes, toys, furniture, pets, books and electronics to those who are interested in the items.

The local branch started in June 2004 and has grown to include more than 6,000 members.

“I really hate throwing things out that are completely usable, so I joined the group,” said Sveinson, who added members typically share the waste-not philosophy.

“I believe this area has a huge community involvement and desire to have a community we can be proud of,” she continued.

“You’re helping the earth by keeping it out of the landfill and know that you’ve made someone’s day by providing them with something.”

For Heather Madsen, the greatest benefit that Freecycle has to offer is the ability for community members to help out one another.

“I just looked at it as, how do they say it, someone else’s junk is another person’s treasure,” she said while packing a bag full of her son’s toys that a fellow Freecycle member was coming to pick up.

The stay-at-home mom from Blackfalds did stress, however, that she will not give away items that no longer present a benefit to others, such as torn clothing. But she still likes to use the site to get rid of things she no longer uses that others may need.

“It was tough times there for awhile and I thought if someone else can use what I have, I thought that was good,” Madsen said.

“If I had the money to give, I might give it. But I have things I can give that makes them happier.”

She also uses the site to routinely find clothes and toys for her two-year-old son, books for herself and items for her dog. When she finds the family is no longer utilizing the items, Madsen said, “I recycle it back into Freecycle.”

There is no charge to join Freecycle Red Deer although a free Yahoo email account is needed to participate in group.

To join, go to http://groups.freecycle.org/reddeerfreecycle/description.

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