Maybe there is such a thing as a free lunch

I've been experimenting with "Freecycle". The basic idea is that you sign up with a local group, and people offer stuff to others rather than throwing it out. (The groups are kept local because the idea is primarily about reducing landfill usage, and they don't want to negate the environmental benefits by encouraging long car trips.)

This works surprisingly well. I did something similar with my moving boxes--offered them for free on Craigslist to whoever wanted to pick them up--and I have to admit I got a nice warm fuzzy feeling thinking that my unwanted garbage had turned into somebody else's valuable moving tool, all through the power of the internet. Freecycle just extends that concept to . . . well, everything.

That said, some of the stuff offered seems like a stretch. There's a huge amount of broken consumer electronics, offered to a constituency that probably doesn't have a lot of aggregate skill with a soldering iron. And who wants a handle-less pot, or a broken picture frame? Some of the members are letting enthusiasm trump common sense--and the useless items clog the already-long lists, reducing their usefulness.