Saturday, September 01, 2007

TechTip: One Man's Trash

Short Story
Transitioning from land life to boat life involves getting rid of most of your stuff. What you can't or don't sell on eBay or at a yard sale, freecycle. Like taking things to the dump, only better.

Long Version
Land life is full of stuff. You have memorabilia stuff, furniture stuff, clothing stuff, and just stuff stuff that defies categorization. You can try selling it on eBay. That sort of works, but is an insane amount of work. People who pay you for your stuff expect your stuff to arrive in perfect condition roughly two hours from the time the auction closes, even if you are shipping it to somewhere approximately in the middle of bumdump nowhere.

You can haul your stuff to the dump, but there are two problems with this. First, most dumps now charge you more than a storage facility to 'warehouse' your stuff. Second, sometimes your stuff is cool. It still works, and it could make someone a happy someone. It hurts to throw away things you've collected if they still operate and might yield more functionality to the greater goodness of fighting scarcity.

You can give some of your stuff to Good People. The blind folks, the Salvation Army folks, the local high school yard sale. This feels good, it really does. I recommend this approach for another purely selfish and Machiavellian reason: Stuff you give to Good People is tax deductible. I like tax deductible. Unfortunately, there is a lot of your stuff that is not good enough for the Good People but not bad enough to pay the garbage men to take it.

And this residual stuff is what you freecycle. Freecycle is a fantastic idea. The way it works is that people in the same part of the country sign up for a regional freecycle email list on Yahoo! All you need is a Yahoo! email address and the willingness to slog through hundreds of messages a day. When you have something to freecycle, you post a message to this list identifying the item being offered. Then brace yourself as the replies come in. You do not have to give it to the first person that replies, but rather give your stuff to the person who describes the best need.

So let's try an example.

Subject: OFFERED: Box of Half Used Booze (West Seattle)
Message: In over ten years of living in the same house, we accumulated a lot of bottles of miscellaneous flavors of alcohol used in recipes for interesting party concoctions. Anyone want them? I will check ID on pickup.

We received nearly 70 replies to this one. Not surprising, really. Everyone wants free booze. The winning candidate was a young student of bartending who said she would both give away the booze, rather than drink it, and that she would be able to further her education by having so much raw material to practice with. She may have been lying, but I liked the story.

Most items I leave on the front porch with a sticky note. It disappears within two days. After you've given away all your stuff, you get off the mailing list so as to avoid the spam.

To sign up for freecycle, browse to Create an account, pick your region, and prepare to unload your stuff.


Anonymous said...

Psst... It's, not is a dormant/parked domain w/ spammy advertising links.

Toast said...

What would I do with out you, protected static? Need to just farm them to you for editing ;)