Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Online Group Gives Away Its Clutter; Project's Mission Is to Reduce Waste and the Need to Expand Landfills

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Online Group Gives Away Its Clutter; Project's Mission Is to Reduce Waste and the Need to Expand Landfills

Article excerpt

Byline: Jessie-Lynne Kerr, The Times-Union

Blend popular online auction site eBay with stuff people want to give away and you get a hot new trend called Freecycling.

Thousands of Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia residents are logging on to clear the clutter from their attics and garages. Everything from pets to furniture can be found.

Freecycle is a worldwide network of individual groups getting and giving stuff for free in the cities in which they live. The Freecycle Network is a project of RISE Inc., a non-profit organization whose mission includes reducing waste and the need to expand landfills.

It began in May 2003 to promote waste reduction in Tucson and to prevent the surrounding desert from being desecrated with landfills. The founder is Deron Beal, who took action when he learned his office was getting new furniture and planned to consign the old stuff to the county dump.

Since then, Freecycling has spread to more than 1,500 cities around the globe with more than half a million Freecyclers.

The Jacksonville chapter, JaxFreecycle, was born almost a year ago when Andrea Talton, a full-time student at the University of North Florida, was surfing online and realized the large metropolitan area was without one.

She contacted the network's Web site and got started.

Since then, JaxFreecycle has grown to nearly 1,200 members, posted more than 5,300 messages that include "wants," "offers" and "takens" and spawned groups in Orange Park, Nassau County, Keystone Heights and St. Augustine.

Amy Adkins, a legal assistant who lives in Argyle Forest, started the Orange Park/Westside Freecycle group.

"A lot of what was being offered was a long way from my home," Adkins said, " and I felt it was too far to drive there."

She started the group at the end of June and so far has more than 370 members.

The most popular items people offer are pets, furniture and children's clothing, she said.

"I think it's wonderful," added Adkins, who said she spends about 10 hours a week moderating the group's site.

Once someone joins a Freecycle group, which is free, they post an offer of something they want to give away. If a taker wants the item, the taker responds to the posting directly. Then the giver sets up a mutually agreeable time and place for the item to be passed on.

The Freecycle motto is "think globally, act locally," Talton said.

The most important rule is to "keep it free, legal and appropriate for all ages," she said. That means no drugs, no liquor, no weapons, no trading, no politics.

Above all, no money.

Talton, who said she spends about 33 hours a week moderating her site, is admittedly picky but said the watchdog attitude has helped her site thrive.

"I caution people they can state the area of Jacksonville where they live but not to put their telephone number in the original posting, and try to meet the taker in a public place or at least have someone home with you when they come to pick it up," she said. …

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