81.4 F
Cruz Bay
Tuesday, June 6, 2023
HomeNewsArchivesFreecycle Gives St. Croix a Place to Give and Receive

Freecycle Gives St. Croix a Place to Give and Receive

Nov. 12, 2008 — Let's say you've got a box of widgets sitting out in your garage, or maybe three or four gizmos in your attic. You're never going to use them, they're just taking up space. You could throw them away, but it seems like such a waste. So they just sit there, month after month, reminding you every time you look at them that you never followed through on your widget (or gizmo) project.
Now there's an alternative. Freecycle has come to the Virgin Islands. On St. Croix, and soon on St. Thomas, you can log into Freecycle.org, and odds are you'll find someone with a burning need for widgets or a desperate yen for gizmos.
One man's trash indeed can be another man's treasure.
According to the group's website, The Freecycle Network is a grassroots, nonprofit movement of people who are giving and getting stuff for free in their own towns and thus keeping good stuff out of landfills.
Founded in 2003, Freecycle has 4,628 groups with more than six million members in 85 countries around the globe.
It came to St. Croix via Marlene Harris. When she lived in Michigan and was preparing to move to the island, she used Freecycle a lot, unloading the detritus that accumulates around a home over the course of 14 years. Even more importantly, she acquired a lot of her packing materials — unused boxes, packing tape, plastic peanuts and bubble wrap — through the service.
Delighted, she told her family about the organization, but one of her brothers scoffed, suggesting it was just a place to trade junk, not anything worthwhile. What he needed, he said, was a lot of eight-foot-long 2-by-4 studs for a project he was working on. But certainly, he said, no one was going to just give him those.
Challenged, Harris logged onto the Freecycle site and found exactly what he needed. A short time later, he was driving out to the home of a man who had spare building supplies he was trying to get rid of.
Marlene Harris' brother was another convert.
Harris moved to St. Croix in June 2007 and got involved in local recycling groups. And one of her goals was to get Freecycle started here.
Freecycle isn't all packing and building materials, either. People have gotten rid of and received kitchen appliances, clothing, office supplies, computers — just about anything you can imagine.
Even trash.
According to Harris, a lot of offices, including her own, end up with quantities of shredded paper that has to be burned or thrown away. Turns out there's an artist on the west end of St. Croix who fires raku pottery. Shredded paper is a perfect substitute for the straw traditionally used in raku, and Harris ships her a load of the stuff regularly.
The St. Croix group was formed in April and already has 113 members, and it keeps growing.
"Before the storm it was really getting busy," she said. Hurricane Omar slowed things down a bit, but after the initial cleanup, a lot of people found themselves wth things they needed or had a surplus of and started looking to Freecycle.
Here's how it works. Those with something to give away or looking for something go to the Yahoo user group that is home to the St. Croix group. You have to join the group, which means you'll need a Yahoo ID, which you get by signing up for a free Yahoo email account. Once you're a member of the group, you can post a listing of things you want to give away and look through listings of things people are giving away.
The hard and fast rule is, you cannot sell things on Freecycle. There are other websites for that. You can't make a profit. It must be material you are giving away.
And Freecycle is more than a service, she added. For its devotees, it becomes something close to a lifestyle and a social group.
"When I moved I had a garage sale," Harris said. "And I put out word on Freecycle that when it was over, I'd close the door, open it again, and give everything left over away."
And people came, but not just to paw over the remnants of her unwanted belongings.
"There were a lot of people there just to socialize," she said. "They were just hanging out. Everybody knows who is whom. People see you giving things away, and then when you need something they are there for you."
The group is open to anyone on St. Croix, Harris said, despite being listed as the Christiansted Freecycle Group. That's just the way Yahoo user groups work, she said. They have to have a city name, not an island.
While there isn't a listing yet for a similar group on St. Thomas, one will be coming soon, she added. She's been in touch with a recycler on St. Thomas who wants to organize a group there, and she expects it will be listed soon.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.