Kids seem to come with a lot of stuff. Even when you don’t buy it, you may have family members who like to do the buying for you. Clothes, books, toys, stuff for baths, stuff for the beach, stuff for summer, stuff for winter. A 2-year-old and a 1-year-old are also getting bigger and changing so quickly that they are constantly outgrowing the clothes, toys, and other items.
Because we may have another child, we want to save all the necessary clothes and stuff for potential baby number 3. For this reason, lately I’ve been in the stuff management business and I hate it! It is not that I don’t like organizing, because I do. Instead it is that I dislike moving so much stuff around and around trying to find a system that works. I also hate buying storage containers because they are a symptom of a problem, namely that we have more stuff than we need. I’ve often wondered why I can never seem to find storage containers at yard sales and goodwill stores. I’m convinced it is because no one is ever emptying them, just buying more of them to fill with more stuff.
Usually, I want to hang onto things in the name of frugality because even though the item isn’t useful to me now, I fear that I will need it in the future. I also hate throwing things away or worrying that if I give them to Goodwill, they will get thrown away. Enter Freecycle. Freecycle is a way to give away items for free in your own neighborhood. I belonged to a Freecycle group when we lived in Providence, RI and it was a great way to get useful items to people who would really value them and to get rid of odd items that would probably end up in a landfill otherwise. For example, you can’t give half empty paint cans or old pallets to a thrift store, but someone may want them on Freecycle.
At first I found Freecycle to be a little weird and intimidating, but I set 2 goals for myself to get my feet wet. I vowed to get one item on Freecycle and to give away one item on Freecycle. For myself, I got a huge, but ancient Samsonite suitcase. It still closes and rolls like a dream and I’ve loved using it while traveling. It can hold all of my clothes, all of my kids clothes, and all of the cloth diapers I need. I gave away a bread machine that was in need of a small repair and a tiny, first edition George Foreman Grill. When we were moving, we gave away all sorts of things, like extra plastic hangers, a Kermit the Frog bobble head, and baby items.
In Pennsylvania, I was quick to join my local Freecycle. It isn’t quite the same because the area of coverage is so much bigger. While I might have run across town or to a neighboring city in RI to pick up a suitcase, I don’t want to drive an hour for some pots and pans that MIGHT be what I’m looking for. Still, I’ve managed to get a bike in great shape for Pete to grow into, as well as some little boys clothes. With new and used clothes from friends and family plus the Freecycled ones, I’ve avoided buying any clothes at all except for 2 pairs of used shoes.
This weekend I’m hoping that Freecycle will once again work its magic for me. I’ve already listed a few kitchen items that we’ve hung onto but rarely used over the last 10 years and I am going to be severely weeding all areas of the house while Matt takes the boys out all morning. Between Ebay, Freecycle, and the thrift shops, I’m hoping to clear out some space and start fresh with less stuff to manage, at least until Pete turns 3 in May and is showered with gifts from the grandparents.
Have any of you had any luck with Freecycle?