Do you freecyle?
I am a new convert and already up on my soapbox. I want to woo the world to join. (If you are old enough read that to the tune of I want to teach the world to sing.)
If you have not met it, freecycle is a countrywide online organisation with local branches where you can post offers of things you no longer want to other people in your area. Or, you can accept things others are offering and you want. No money changes hands. Things that would otherwise go into landfill get to live another useful day. Win, win!
I am downsizing to go back to Australia to live. I have known people who move and even move twice or three times with boxes that stay unpacked until they get to realizing that if they have not yet missed their contents they never will.
However when moving means hiring a shipping container or part thereof at considerable cost, there is less temptation to just pack everything you know you want, plus everything that you conceivably might want one day.
I have thousands of books. I really mean thousands. When the second hand dealer who had first dibs took a couple of hundred it barely made a dent in my bookshelves.
And I hate taking to a tip or putting in a skip anything that I have valued and may still have some useful life left in it with someone else. Especially if it is a book.
So I ventured into this intriguing new world with a strimmer. I could have given it away several times over. The same with the white plastic unused lavatory seat and lid. And the golf clubs, bag and trolley.
What took me by surprise is the speed with which people reply, at least in my corner of London. Most not only asked the same day if offers were still available but had often collected them within a few hours of posting. Even on a Sunday evening. I got so rushed at one point that I nearly put the wrong thing out at the wrong time, and I did forget to put out another.
I am lucky that I have an enclosed porch and anything left there is not really visible from the road. So I give people my address, we agree an approximate time, and I put whatever it is in the porch just before. I ask them not to ring the bell. So it becomes an interruption-free exercise that can go on even while I am working with clients.
Doing it that way also meant that I did not have to let strangers into my house. But I begin to feel somewhat ashamed of that. They have been such nice people. One or two I have bumped into. Most have left “thank you” notes. Or sent me a “thank you” email afterwards.
I cannot tell you how satisfying it is to find that something you have valued but no longer want to keep is going to be useful to someone else. Or how warming is the human connection, however fleeting, that the transaction brings with it.
The slowest item to move so far was headed “reference books.” Not exactly the sexiest offer. I was beginning to think books were a non-starter, at least around here. But after a few days someone did ask for about eight from the list and I relisted the rest headed “dictionaries and encyclopaedias.” They did not go quite as fast as strimmer and golf clubs but did inside 12 hours from posting to collection.
I know some charity shops take books but only know one that collects and I have a date with it. I just do not have the time or the book boxes or a van to deliver the bulk of them. Some are really weighty tomes.
So I now have stacks of books I am listing sorted into categories. I am getting the hang of this. There nutrition book. And wine books. And gardening books. And cookery books. And medical books. And golf books. And art books. And… And… And… Themed this way they attract an almost instant response. The whole process is lightening my physical and mental load.
If you are not yet doing it and I have sold you on giving it a try go to http://www.freecycle.org. If you do not find you have a local group, you could always offer to start one.