October 15 2007


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Freecycle is a non-profit network that helps redistribute unwanted items to people who might need them. The system is called freecycling because there is no charge for accepting or donating the items. The goods are however diverted from the landfill and so help to reduce environmental impacts of waste disposal. It is estimated that since 2003 the Freecycle program has diverted more waste than would fill garbage trucks stacked on top of one another to a height of Mt. Everest.

That is quite a bold claim and an interesting mathematical problem for anyone willing to take up the challenge of calculating waste streams. Regardless of which mountain peaks could be reached by stacking freecycled items at their bases, the idea of the program is beautiful and simple. It really conjures up images in my head of a time when we lived in smaller human clusters and everything was exploited for its potential. Looked at another way, a program like Freecycle  is definitely an interesting development on the consumerist principles of contemporary America.

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