This week’s edition of Three-R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) is on the nonprofit network site Freecycle.

According to their website: “The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,810 groups with 7,245,000 members across the globe. It’s a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.”

I have been using Freecycle consistently for the last year and I can tell you: Just sign up!

What is it?

It is a network that brings together people in your own community that are a) trying to get rid of items to keep them from the landfill or b) are trying to save money by getting items from other people for free.

How does it work?

You find your local group through the Freecycle website.  Then join their email list group (powered by Yahoo). You will start receiving emails. Depending on your group, this may be a lot every day.

People will post items that they have to OFFER.  If you are interested, you email them directly and indicate a date and time that you can come pick it up (Manners count!).  The person offering will choose someone from all of the responses and will contact them by email advising the item will be available and “sitting on the porch” or “in a bag with your name”, etc. and give their address. Then you just go and pick it up. That’s it.

So, start cleaning out your house and posting items to OFFER.

Or you may see a WANTED email.  These are from people detailing an item that they are in search of.  If you have one, contact the person directly by email and again, you will arrange a pick-up date and time.

What kind of items are offered?

Everything. And by everything, I mean EVERYTHING.  I have seen adult and children’s clothing, building materials, appliances, toys, holiday decorations, household items, house and garden plants, canned goods, moving boxes and more.  Anything and everything is offered or desired.

Have you actually used this?

Yes!  Some items I have “Freecycled” to someone else: clothing, salad bowls, a nativity set, a ceramic figurine, ice skates, children’s video tapes, travel-size toiletries, china-safe containers, nursing breast pads, outgrown toys, and more I can’t remember!

Items I have gotten from others: a breadmaker, a sandwich maker, a wooden train set, cookbooks, exercise DVDs, infant formula, toddler shoes, a changing pad for the changing table, old Christmas cards, sippy cups, toddler plates, and again, more that I can’t remember! All for free!

I’m intrigued. How do I sign up?

Go to the Freecycle website and do a search for your town.  A list of possible results is returned. When you click on one, you will be taken to that’s group’s description and to a link to sign up for the Yahoo group. That’s it.

NOTE: Please be careful when giving out your home address.  Participation in your local Freecycle group is done at your own risk.