Millions of toys, gifts and gadgets maintain a place in the hearts of their owners. But at the same time, others are lying around in cupboards and corners, unloved and uncared for. Which is where the Internet comes in. What better way could there be to alleviate the guilt of looking at an unwanted present every morning than to pass it along to somebody who really wants it? This article will discuss online options for recycling your electronics and other no-longer-loved items.
Online recycling is a growing business. As long ago as 2007 - an eternity in Internet terms - a survey by financial advice service Money Management International revealed that over half of the respondents had recycled an unwanted gift at least once. And as the current economic recession bites, while at the same time the online auction boom is tailing off and sites such as eBay are gradually becoming the territory of professional sellers rather than regular individuals, people are increasingly looking for new ways in which they can use the Web to sell, donate or exchange possessions.
Giving it all away
Many people are happy to let their unwanted gifts and other items go free to a good home. Such people will appreciate a site such as the Free section of the venerable craigslist.org. If your surplus item is in reasonable condition and even remotely desirable, there is a high chance that you will find a new home for it here. However, the geographical focus of craigslist may make it difficult to locate people who want your items. Also, with the huge amount of other information on that site, people can easily miss the free listings.
What is really required is a site dedicated to matching people who have stuff to give away with people who want it. Such a site already exists in Ireland: the extraordinary jumbletown.ie. With over six million subscribers, many of whom share its environmentally conscious ethos, Jumbletown is an example of that rare thing, a genuinely altruistic site. Entirely free to use and virtually untainted by advertising, it exists simply to bring together item givers and takers. And unlike many trade and barter sites, every item is guaranteed to be absolutely free of charge.
Perhaps the closest US-based equivalent to jumbletown.ie is the Freecycle network. With its stated intention to change the world one gift at a time, Freecycle, like Jumbletown, provides a place where people can offer unwanted gifts and other items at no cost for reuse or, where appropriate, for other forms of recycling. Unlike the Irish network, Freecycle doesn't operate through a single web site. Instead it is divided into geographically distinct local Yahoo groups, although an interface is provided on http://www.freecycle.org/ for interacting centrally with these groups. The oldest group is based in Tucson, Arizona, where Freecycle founder Deron Beale set up the original local scheme in 2003. Since then the network has become international, expanding to 85 countries, gaining more than two million members, and growing to the point where around 500 tons of items are being recycled through the system every day.
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