Back in the UK, I was part of the Harrogate Freecycle mafia. The members of this online community offer goods they no longer require for free to other members. One or two members, in difficult circumstances, have managed to find carpets, washing machines, beds and tables courtesy of the generosity of fellow Freecyclers. Most of us have acquired something for the toolbox or garden, or a child’s toy, bedding for a dog, a director’s chair, a bookcase, or…. or… . some other thing that another member no longer wants but doesn’t want to see ending up in landfill. And most of us give at least as much as we receive, and enjoy the relationships we forge as a result.
In Laroque, a small group of us were keen to replicate this success. Outside the main urban areas, Freecycle isn’t as well established here. There were certainly no other local groups, and Freecyle themselves weren’t helpful. So one of the councillors set up a mini-site on the town’s website. It sort of works, but you couldn’t say we’ve exactly reached critical mass yet. In fact all Malcolm and I have managed to offer successfully have been some odd-shaped pillows which a local puppeteer thought might come in handy for something.
But maybe it doesn’t matter much. Informal Freecycling is alive and well.
Here, as in most of France, there’s no domestic refuse collection service for every home. Instead, householders take their rubbish to the communal bins situated in almost every street. What we discovered is that people who are discarding something that might still have some life in it place it outside the bin. And it won’t last long there. Last week we put out three old mirrors, a set of crockery (that I’d rescued from a skip in England not because I wanted it, but because I couldn’t bear to see it go to waste) and a bedside light. They were gone within half an hour. We recently acquired a good frying pan and a huge stock pot. As I rescued this last item, Malcolm noticed an indignant woman turn tail and go back home. She’d clearly been thwarted in her plan to claim that same stock pot.
Now then, I’ve just found some of those old raffia covered wine bottles lurking in the atelier. I think those can go out next.