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Reflections: How Freecycle Changed My Life

I’m a pack rat. A hoarder. A woman who keeps stationary in unopened boxes so that it doesn’t disappear “too quickly.” Yeah. That bad.

But like any genetic disorder, my packratitis is not my fault. I come from a long line of pile stackers, closet stuffers, and box overflowers. We’ve got basement fillers, attic packers, and car clutterers. Yeah. That’s me, too. In fact, every time we pick up my four year old’s best friend she greets me with, “Miss Amy, why do you have so much stuff in your car?”

Genetics, my dear Maddy, genetics.

For years those of us with this disorder have easily blamed it on The Great Depression, World War II, the absence of big box stores. After all, why wouldn’t our grandparents, those poor people who grew up in shacks along the railroad tracks eating radishes and shoving their money under their mattresses, hoard everything that finally came their way? And let’s not forget rationing – oh, shameful rationing – the careful distribution of sugar, butter, all things good in this world.

And our parents – they were raised by those poor sufferers who lived through the worst days America had seen since the Civil War. Why shouldn’t they also hang on to every piece of junk mail, every Christmas Card (where do we know them from?), the last few pieces of taffy from the shore?

But what, then, is my excuse? I was born in the 70’s, raised in the “me” times of the 80’s, came of age in the 90’s with my helicopter parents hovering nearby. I don’t know the definition of need, have never felt the pang of want. My father stood in line for hours to get the first Cabbage Patch Kid, to be joined later by her eleven brothers and sisters. My mother sat with me through my first New Kids on the Block concert. I still have the tour jacket. I went to a private college, a private graduate school, all on my parents’ private savings account.

So why do I feel the need to keep everything? It’s time we admit that this is a family trait, passed through our DNA as easily and as often as heart disease, diabetes, an under bite.

But I’ve found the cure! Behold – Freecycle!

Never has it been so much fun to rid my life of all things unnecessary. I’ve done away with plastic hangers, I’ve handed out old green clocks (yes, two!), I’ve given away car seats, bath tubs, and even my beloved college couch, Fernando.

Today as I was making the bed in my guest room I found myself thinking that the sage green comforter set really needed replacing. The decor was changing and it was time for new bedding. Was my first thought to grab an over sized trash bag, roll the linens up as tightly as possible, and place it carefully on the top basement shelf next to the three other comforter sets? No! Immediately I thought of freecycle.

And what is so glorious about http://www.freecycle.org/ and my fellow freecyclers, is that although everything listed in free, I am NEVER quick enough in replying to a post to actually bring more clutter back into my house. Thankfully I have been saved by those quick clickers, the sufferers of internetitis. God bless them.

Perhaps the internet could be the saving grace for all of life’s ills. Could I post the following, perhaps?

Wanted: Duster
Will vacuum your house if you dust mine.

Or maybe this:

Offer: 90% Husband
My husband will finally nail those baseboards into the drywall for you if your husband will finally paint the trim in my old new windows.

I’m convinced that we’re on to something here. And I like it.

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