activism, permaculture

Give It Away

The single thing that best joins together my attempts at simple living and my environmental beliefs is Freecycle and its friends: the charity shop, the sale/free-for-postage board on my favourite forum, even Ebay (though more on that in a moment).

I hate wasting things; and I hate the idea that I am contributing yet more to landfill. But I also hate unnecessary clutter. So I declutter merrily, piling up the things that no longer serve me (don’t fit me physically, don’t fit me mentally, don’t fit my life now even if they did in the past)… and then I get stuck.I reach for the black bin bag, then I stop and think, well, but they’re not broken, they could still be useful. Maybe I should just hang onto them for now, just in case. It would be wasteful to throw them out, right?

If instead I can take them to the charity shop, or list them on Freecycle, or sell them off on Ebay, suddenly I feel better about the whole thing. I’m not wasting them, or losing them; I’m letting them go, to find better lives, to make someone else happy, elsewhere. (This also helps reassure my sentimental side, which hates to let go of old friends like my college-room kettle, even if it has lived in a cupboard for 5 years.)

It works best if I can just give things away. Ebay means a little bit of cash, sure; but it also means a certain amount of effort, photographing and listing and packaging up and posting. For most things the returns barely cover the time expended. More importantly, things to be listed on Ebay pile up in corners of my room, lurking at me.

Freecycle, on the other hand — no photos, just a quick 2-sentence listing, and the minor hassle of arranging a collection time (easier these days now someone is at home with Leon the majority of the time). The charity shop means a trike ride, but the charity box lives in the garage (out of sight, out of mind) so that’s better too. And giving things away also helps me get past the temptation to save them “just in case”. I see Freecycle like a giant karmic lending library. I put my stuff out there; and if I need it (or, more likely, something different) later, there’s a decent chance that someone else will have things to spare.

Of course, the next stage is to focus a little harder on not bringing these things in the house in the first place. My consumption levels aren’t huge, but they’re higher than I’d like. And, I fear, more so when I’m tired or stressed out, a state of affairs that can is a little more frequent than I’d like right now. So my next step in both simple and green living? Learning to think for a few moments more before I hit that ‘buy’ button.

Meanwhile: I think I feel another burst of decluttering coming on…



Thank you for visiting the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. Read about how others are incorporating eco-friendly living solutions into their everyday lives. We hope you will join us next month, as the Simply Living Blog Carnival focuses on Daily Lives!



  • Green Renovating: A Lot, A Little, Not So Much Laura at Authentic Parenting ponders about the many things that have an impact on eco-friendly renovating
  • Growing Native in My Flower Beds – Destany at They Are All of Me takes the guilt out of her flower habit by switching from high maintenance flowers to native plants which not only lessens her gardening load, but also benefits the local wild life.
  • Baby Steps – Kellie at Our Mindful Life shares how her family became more sustainable, one step at a time.
  • A Greener Holiday – Sara from Family Organic discusses the overwhelming amount of “stuff” that comes with every holiday and talks about how to simplify instead.
  • Forcibly Green–Obligatory Organic – Survivor at Surviving Mexico talks about her family’s evolution from passive to active green and sustainable living.
  • Giving It Away – Juliet Kemp of Twisting Vines writes about the role of Freecycle, the giant karmic lending library, in her simple and green living.
  • Simply Sustainable – Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children discusses her family’s attempts to live in harmony with the earth by living simply and more sustainably.
  • How Does Your Yarden Grow – Alisha at Cinnamon&Sassafras writes about an ongoing permaculture project, converting her grass lawn into a mower-free paradise.
  • Green? – Is it about ticking the boxes? sustainablemum shares her thoughts on what being green means in her life.
  • Using Cloth Products To Reduce Household Waste – Angela from Earth Mama’s World shares how her family replaced many disposable household products with cloth to reduce their household waste.
  • Going Green in Baby Steps – Joella of Fine and Fair shares some small, easy steps to gradually reduce your environmental impact.
  • Are You Ready To Play Outside?! – Alex from AN Portraits writes about gardening, and playing in the dirt, and how it’s O.K. to get dirty, play in the dirt, play with worms, for both adults and kids.
  • Lavender and Tea Tree Oil Laundry Booster – At Natural Parents Network, Megan from The Boho Mama shares an all-natural way to freshen laundry.

7 thoughts on “Give It Away”

  1. One thing that I found helped with giving things away on freecycle was to state a preferred collection time in my post (usually a 1 hour window at a weekend) and ask people to say if they could collect at that time in their reply, especially if I had multiple items. I still got some no shows but it saved a lot of hassle negotiating collection times, which was one of the things that had put me off with my previous experiences of freecycle.

  2. Juliette — ooh, that’s a good idea, and one that has never occurred to me before 🙂 Normally it’s not so much faff for me as there’s mostly someone in here these days, but the backwards/forwards is a bit of a hassle.

    Camille — indeed, though I could still wish I were a bit better at the paring down 😉

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