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Trash-To-Treasure Co-ops Go Online

Shel Horowitz's Monthly Frugal Fun Tip for October, 2004

Good frugalists already know that one of the best frugal ways to furnish your house is to take stuff that other people don't want anymore--and one of the best ways to make space is to find another home for your own unwanted junk.

For decades, people in small towns have set aside an area at the town dump for people to leave and others to take. In big cities, furniture gets put out on the street the night before trash collection day, and bargain-seekers prowl the streets, taking what they need.

Technology has helped to create the problem of too much stuff, but it can also help solve it. Organizations are starting to spring up that use the power of the Internet to match up people who want to get rid of things and those who need or want them. And nobody has to open up a wallet!

Two organizations (among many, I'm sure):

1., described by staffer Donna Lomangino as "The Internet’s Landfill Alternative." She writes...

<<< Being frugal is a two part process--knowing where to find the best deals, and knowing what to do with the things you no longer need. Luckily, provides even the most frugal-minded with a safe, convenient and easy-to-use system that helps with both!

“Take what you need, and Throw what you don’t” at Individuals, businesses and nonprofits can sign up at no cost and get access to items posted for donation, such as computers, desks, and clothes. For a nominal fee, businesses and individuals also can have access to a special business section filled with items to recycle and reuse. Some of the more unusual “Throws” that have found happy homes include a swing set, 60 bicycles, and a pizza oven!

What makes Throwplace special is the ease with which members can search for items in or out of their geographical area or by keyword. Throwers can specify whether their donated items are to be picked up or shipped. Members from coast to coast have been Throwing and Taking items, thereby doing their part to keep excess goods out of our landfills. Members enthusiastically endorse the site with comments such as “For the first time in a long time I feel like someone else gives a care...keep up the good work!” Internet’s landfill alternative--is a great resource for finding all sorts of items you need--from appliances to art supplies--and also is a handy way to donate to others. Search the site for something eye-catching or practical. It's fun and easy--and frugal!>>>

At Throwplace, you can search a database organized by user category, e.g., business, nonprofit, individual. Items are listed by state (though not all the listings appear to be current).

Donna can be reached at; or 202.338.4110 x100

2. takes a different approach: geographic communities, each with its own e-mail discussion list to post offers and wants. Already, more than half a million people are participating, spread across 1503 different cities and towns around the world. The largest group, in Portland, Oregon, has over 10,000 members!

Four cities and towns near me have freecycle groups. My town does not, but the towns on either side of me each have about 600 members. I've just signed up; I'll let you know in a few months how it's working for me.

My assistant got so excited when she heard I was going to write about this topic that she sent a whole bunch of links--to which I'm adding the ReStore, a recycler of building materials in my own area (they're in nearby Springfield, MA). I haven't checked these out.

Recycle Everything Possible -

Appliances - Donate: Goodwill: (800) 664-6577 -

Australian Recycling & Environmental News:


Batteries, Rechargeable:

Compact Discs and other media: (888) 454-3223 -

Computer Disks: (800) 305-disk -

Computers, Ink-Jet and Laser Cartridges:

Computers and Home Electronics: (703) 907-7500 -

Eyeglasses - Donate: Contact your local Lions Club or eye care chain.

Foam Packing Peanuts and Blocks: (800) 828-2214 - (410) 451-8340 -

Ink-Jet and Laser Toner Cartridges: (847) 583-1215 -

Oil–American Petroleum Institute lists Used Motor Oil Hotlines for each state, (202) 682-8000 -

Phones (cell): (770) 856-9021 - or

Phones (single-line): (814) 386-2927 -

Phones (office): (800) phone-guys -

Recycling Locations for Many Products:

Reusable Building Materials & Large Household Items

(Washington State):



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