ReUseIt Questions and Answers
Q: How does it work?
A: E-cycling is dedicated to using the internet to match up people who need something with people who are happy to part with it. People join an online group (usually hosted by Yahoo!Groups) near where they live or work. The groups are managed by volunteer "moderators." Group members then post an OFFER or WANTED request following guidelines they receive upon joining. Responses to posts made on the group are made between members off list and arrangements are made for pickup of items. There are two main guidelines to follow ... offers and requests made must be free, legal and family friendly. Direct "I'll swap you this for that" exchanges, bartering, and sales are not allowed. Goods must be freely offered, no strings attached. There are no fees charged to join or participate in the group.
Q: Why do people decide to start a group in their town?
A: Some belonged to a group in another place and wanted one for their own area. They are concerned about consumer consumption, the environment, the rising cost of living, etc. and feel the group can help make a difference in people's lives. Or, a friend or relative has a group in another town and suggested it. Many grew up in a family that swapped hand-me-downs with relatives and friends, or were taught from an early age to live frugally and to respect the earth.
Q: Are there restrictions on what can be posted on these free give-and-take groups?
A: Nothing illegal, of course, and items must be "family friendly" - no pornography, no alcohol, no tobacco, no weapons, and no drugs, including prescription medicines. Some groups allow posts for household pets, but others do not.
Q: What kinds of things are exchanged?
A: Household items from furniture to dishes to linens; outgrown baby and kids items; stuff from cleaning out closets and garages and basements, large and small appliances, materials left over from remodeling like wall board and paint; fresh fruits and vegetables from gardens; books, games, videos, computer equipment. The possibilities are endless.
Q: What are the most unusual things you have seen?
A: We have heard of things like houses to be moved being offered, as well as things like yogurt containers and old sheets. Horse manure for fertilizer, stale food for composting, broken freezers to make a worm bin. If it is a tangible item, there is usually someone who can find a new use for it.
Q: What do people who join get out of this? Why do they join and participate?
A: They join because of tight budgets, trying to find "free" things they can use. They also want to give items away without having to haul things to thrift stores or the city dump. They are concerned about throwing good stuff into the trash and want someone who can use it to have it. They want to teach their kids about alternatives to the throw-away way of doing things. They are trying to protect the planet by adopting a green lifestyle. They are concerned about global warming. They are moving to a smaller place and can't take everything with them.
Q: How do you encourage less consumer consumption?
A: We give our members an alternative to buying new goods, like children's clothing ... it is the same as getting "hand-me-downs" from neighbors and relatives. People who are thinking of purchasing items like furniture or toys or small appliances can post a "Wanted" message to see if another member has the item and wishes to pass it on instead of putting it out for bulk trash pickup.
Q: What is the difference between ReUseIt and Freecycle?
A: ReUseIt takes a different approach than The Freecycle Network. Freecycle focuses only on keeping "stuff" out of landfills. ReUseIt Network tries to encourage everyone to change their daily habits to slow down the environmental impact of over-consumption and to build a base of concern in communities. Having a choice is the same as being able to decide what grocery store to shop at, where to order pizza, what dry cleaner or hair dresser to use.
Q: How many groups are affiliated with ReUseIt?
A: There are over 500 ReUseIt groups in the US, England, Canada, Australia, and other countries. The list of groups can be found at http://www.reuseitnetwork.org
Q: How many members does ReUseIt have?
A: The ReUseIt Network is primarily a directory of local, grass-roots e-cycling groups. We ask that our affiliates have a link to the ReUseIt Network on their front page in return for their listing. We do not have "memberships" and we don't keep track of how many subscribers each group has. We do know that subscribers range from thousands to less than 100 members depending on the group.
Q: What does "grass roots network" mean?
A: It means local management and local decision making. ReUseIt doesn't tell group owners/moderators how to run their groups. It requires only one rule for its affiliates: "free, legal, family-friendly."
Q: Can non-profit organizations participate?
A: Yes. We encourage representatives of non-profits to join our groups and participate. They should provide the name, location, and contact information for their organization. Members who give items to non-profits may receive a receipt that lets them deduct the value of their donation on their income tax return.
Q: Is it safe to do this?
A: In our group guidelines we caution about keeping safe. We suggest participants don't include their phone numbers or addresses in their emails to the whole group. We suggest they may not wish to allow strangers into their homes without a friend or family member present and that if giving smaller items to arrange to meet in a public place, like a library parking lot if they don't wish to give out their address. There have been very few, if any, incidents that we are aware of.
Q: Do you know of any users who were able to recycle someone else's castoffs in a way that would impress people?
A: Our groups regularly rally to help families who have lost their homes due to fire or other natural disasters in their community. Teachers have let members know about the need for classroom supplies. Homes have been found for pets whose owners were incapacitated and no longer able to keep them.
Q: Can I speak from someone from the ReUseIt Network about their program?
A: Yes, absolutely! Send an email to RINHelpdesk and someone will contact you promptly.