Non-profit helps people swap goods

DeShawna Hornbuckle

President Bush encouraged to go shopping more.

But there are those who show that they can support their country and not spend a dime.

Freecycle is a non-profit organization that aims to connect people in local communities who are either looking to rid themselves of old items they no longer have a need for or for people who are seeking something they need.

“Our goal is to get two people who have stuff talking to each other,” said Nikki Maxwell, who serves as the lead moderator for the Northridge Freecycle community. “The founder’s idea was if you build little localized communities and get people swapping with each other, you are going to see something really exciting happen.”

The grassroots organization, which consists of more than four million people worldwide, encourages people to give away items they no longer need to reduce the amount of trash created.

“The local dump in Granada Hills is really angry because they are trying to expand it and people don’t want them to, so part of how we keep from having more dumps is by making less trash,” said Maxwell. “Our purpose is to keep stuff out of landfills and the rest is gravy.”

Maxwell, who started the Northridge group after realizing how much stuff her family had to donate, thinks of the concept as “up the river, down the river.”

“You receive the stuff that is floating by you and then you send it along to somebody else when you are done with it. When you give freely like that then you receive freely.”

Maxwell’s husband Bill, who is an active Freecycle member and will soon be a moderator, said, “It’s the idea that things are better used than sitting on a shelf. You give away most of the stuff that you are not using and in return make a friend.”

Bill called the Freecycle process a “gift economy.”

“Trust that because you are a part of a group that does this that when you need something it will come back around. You just have to be patient sometimes,” said Bill.

“I put the group in Northridge because I was working at CSUN at the time and because we are in the center of the valley,” said Nikki. “I also felt like a lot of college students were going to enjoy this and they do. I’ve got a number of people in the group who are graduate students in computer science and love to get computer parts.”

People will have a chance to see what Freecycle is about on April 22 when they will be participating in this year’s Earth Fair with free donated items.

“This will be our third year at CSUN for the Earth Fair. I remember people would come up and ask what the stuff was, and we told them that it was free, and they had these shocked looks like there was a camera around,” said Maxwell.

Cyndi Signett, the Associated Students recycling coordinator, said, “She has participated for the past couple of years and it’s a great thing. Our students were really excited about it last year. She brought all kinds of stuff?she had quite a crowd outside of her table with the students. It’s a great idea to be able to bring stuff or take stuff.”

“It’s a good way to not waste. It’s a reuse avenue just like Goodwill or anything else like that except this you don’t have to pay for it,” Signett said.