New online community helps people share, recycle

A new online community designed to help people share stuff for free was recently launched by a Huntingburg resident.

Andrea Himsel decided to create a local FreeCycle group to support the community. She moderates a group on the FreeCycle site called “Huntingburg FreeCycle” although posting on it isn’t limited just to Huntingburg area. All surrounding communities are welcome to become members and use the service.

“I’ll accept members from Dubois, Martin, Crawford, Pike, Daviess, Orange, Spencer, Warrick and Perry Counties,” Himsel said.

It’s just getting started so there aren’t a lot of members yet

FreeCycle is a nonprofit company that launched in 2003 to allow people to connect to share things — household items, advice or help — for free with some semblance of anonymity if so desired.

According to the company’s website, the founder hit upon the idea of the online community while working for a nonprofit that helped businesses recycle unwanted items and equipment. He and other members of the team would approach various local nonprofits to see if they could use the items. They then decided to take the idea of sharing online and launched Freecycle.org through an e-mail group.

Himsel experienced first hand how helpful FreeCycle was to her when she headed to Indiana University after graduating from Jasper High School. She was attracted to using the service because of the recycling it helped to foster but also out of her own personal needs.

“Struggling financially and supporting myself while attending IU, I posted, ‘Wanted: Hard-boiled egg cooker,'” she explained. “I did not get a cooker, but some responses said, ‘Hey, you can just boil them in a regular pot!'”

Seems helpful but then she didn’t have any pots. However, that was remedied quickly with a couple more posts on the Bloomington FreeCycle page.

With pots in hand and eggs boiled, Himsel saw the benefit of the community.

“It was my first apartment my sophomore year and I spent a lot of money buying my textbooks so I started from scratch with my kitchenware,” she explained. “FreeCycle really made it a little easier after being shell-shocked moving from Jasper to Bloomington and experiencing homesickness.”

In addition to pots and pans, Himsel was able to find measuring spoons, dishes and other items needed for someone just getting started on her own as well as a trashcan for a friend. “The majority of what I asked for I received from like-minded people,” she said adding that wasting or trashing something should be a last resort. “Many things can be salvaged and made to look like new again with a little TLC.”

FreeCycle is similar to the free classifieds on Craigslist. It works well because it is moderated and with email, communication is a cinch. “No one will know your real name — only your email address and FreeCycle username — or your address unless you reveal it to them,” Himsel explained.

After becoming a member, you post an “Offer” of something to get for free and meet with a person who requests your item in a mutual location (such as at a park or another public place). Then, when you want to request something, you post a “Wanted” message for all the group’s members and, if someone has that item available, they can send you a message letting you know and you arrange pickup of the item.

FreeCycle recommends meeting in a mutual location in a public area, such as a park or a local business, for safety.

Additionally, FreeCycle does not allow bartering or selling of any kind; every post must be 100 percent free with no strings attached.

Essentially, FreeCycle is a way to reduce the amount of things that end up in landfills; creating a better future by less landfill mass

“It’s a great way for us to lighten our load and ask ourselves if we really need something that badly or is it taking up too much room,” Himsel said. “You can pay it forward and lighten your own load at the same time.”

Here is the link: https://groups.freecycle.org/group/HuntingburgIN

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